Another exciting round of rut reports this week seemed to wrap themselves around one major theme: now is the time to use aggressive tactics to get that dream buck. There may be better season phases to pattern and kill a mature whitetail, but there is no better period when bold, in-your-face moves can put you face-to-face with a bruiser.
Calling is perhaps the most obvious example of such an approach. South reporter Eric Bruce related some hunter experiences with does making a drawn-out brawl that seemed to attract bucks. Indeed, I was in a hunting camp many years ago with Jerry Peterson, founder of Woods Wise calls, he talked about a “breeding bellow” (Peterson describes the vocalization as sounding like “mah-mah”) that he’d heard does make many times. And of course he invented a call to mimic that sound.
While I’ve not personally heard a doe make this call, I have little doubt it exists. I do know—and have seen—does seeking out bucks when they are ready to breed. This behavior flies against most hunter’s notions of the rut, in that we typically view bucks as the aggressors.
But does, remember, are willing participants in this relationship. So it makes sense that they would have ways of attracting bucks. At any rate, Eric’s attempts to imitate this sound strike me as a sharp woodsman trying to adapt to what he experiences in the woods.
Mid-South reporter Will Brantley and Northeast reporter Mike Bleech each posted stories illustrating that just getting in the timber and using every scrap of hunting time available is important now. Bleech’s tale of a man and his grandson using a tandem approach to calling (the youngster in a ground blind with a grunt call, the elder statesman rattling from a nearby stand) can work wonders on the highly curious and aggressive bucks in this rut phase. Brantley’s hunt, which had him shooting a beautiful buck when he only had an hour to be in the woods illustrates that a savvy hunter (read: one who can slip into an area without alerting the deer) can make the most of an abbreviated session. The message in each case is that highly aggressive tactics can pay off when the action—as it so often does during the rut—happens quickly.
Like most of you, I was wowed by antler mass in the post about Montana hunter Bill McKinley by West reporter Jeff Holmes. After recovering from antler shock, it was wonderful to hear the dedication and woodsmanship shown by McKinley as he hunts public land whitetails. While public property is often overlooked by hunters who have big deer on the brain, this Montanan proves that thorough scouting and intense hunting effort can pay some huge dividends on mature whitetails.
Great Plains reporter Draper wrapped up the aggression theme when he detailed the story of the hunt for a Kansas buck the hunter had nicknamed Hi-C. This quest proves that by putting together lots of information—sign, trail cam pics, and previous encounters—a hunter can keep bringing the fight to one particular buck and eventually score. While there is luck involved in every successful hunting story, I’m convinced that consistently successful hunters make their own good fortune…and this great story proved no exception to the rule.