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Rut Tactics Take a Big-Woods Buck

Tyler Wagner, whose trophy buck was reported in the previous posting, is now hunting in Ohio’s Fairfield and Hocking counties. The rut situation there has been much different from what he had been seeing before leaving northwest Pennsylvania. He and the group he is hunting with have seen numerous does that are in heat, and are being followed by bucks, some of which are exceptional.

“The woods just smell like a deer farm, “ Wagner said.

Friend and deer scouting partner Mike Stimmell used rut tactics to take this nice Allegheny National Forest big-woods buck on November 10.

“In the morning I set up with a clear-cut on one side and big timber on the other, a transition zone,” Stimmell said.

Just a couple days earlier while scouting we had discussed the habit of rutting bucks following edges where they are available. Edges generally provide much better cover than the timber or the clear-cut alone.

Before climbing a tree, Stimmel tied an estrous-scent-soaked wick to a tree limb. Soon after shooting hours began, he started rattling and bleating, repeating a few times until 9:15 a.m., when things livened up after a series of three or four bleats.

“About 5 minutes after the bleating I heard something coming through the woods,” he said.

He turned and saw a buck. “He was coming right at me,” Stimmell said. “Then he turned and went right directly to that estrous scent. He was actually licking that wick. He was doing lip curls, too. He was horny!”

While the buck was preoccupied, Stimmell took the opportunity to turn and position himself for a shot.

“When I did that he apparently caught me out the corner of his eye. He was looking right at me.”

Most experienced hunters, particularly bowhunters, know that gut-wrenching feeling, when hope seems lost.

The buck started bounding off, but then slowed to a walk, quartering away. Stimmell could see a narrow window through the limbs where the buck appeared to be heading, where he planned a shot. He drew the bow in anticipation.

“I took a deep breath, let it out slightly as I squeezed the release,” Stimmell said. “He bolted and I watched him go about 65 yards. He started to wobble, then he fell right down.”

It was the farthest he has ever shot at a deer, 38 yards according to his rangefinder.

When he field-dressed the buck he found that his three-blade broadhead cut right through the center of the heart. The arrow entered toward the back of the rib cage and exited in the armpit, angling down from tree stand height.

The very symmetrical 8-point has an 18-1/2-inch outside spread.

Stimmell used rut-hunting tactics to his advantage. Bleating, in my own experience, tends to be most successful when bucks are looking for does in heat.

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