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Best Days of the Rut 2011: November 23

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November 22, 2011

Best Days of the Rut 2011: November 23

By Scott Bestul

The tail end of the primary rut has some often formidable hurdles: The majority of does have been bred. Young, and even subdominant, bucks are simply worn out and not chasing anymore. Overall, rut-related deer movement generally declines after the peak of the breeding season.

But I love hunting this period because the biggest bucks in the herd—those mature, experienced breeders—aren’t content to let the show end so easily. There are a handful of does left to chase down and breed, and they’re the only ones with the right stuff to get it done. Your chances of seeing a buck today aren’t as high as they were a week ago…but the buck you do see will probably be a fine one. If you’re a quality-over-quantity type, this is your day.

Other factors combine to make this Wednesday stand out. First, the moon will rise early this morning and stay visible for much of the day. Second, though the firearms season is now open in many states, bucks will have had a chance to wind down from the goading of weekend warriors. Finally, it’s late in November, and while cold weather is by no means guaranteed, we stand a much better chance of experiencing a late-season cold front (or snowfall) that can put whitetails on their feet.

Stand hunters should follow a two-phase plan today. But instead of sitting in thick cover early in the morning, as you did earlier in the rut, you’ll want to set up with a view that encompasses a lot of ground so you can see the big one when he moves through, searching for a late hot doe. Get on a remote fenceline running through CRP, a bluff overlooking a broad creekbottom in prairie country, or the edge of a young clear-cut in big timber. These are the areas bucks will use as their travel routes, and you want to spot them as they cover ground. By midafternoon, make a hasty move closer to a food source. The cool weather will have does needing feed, and the bucks will nose around, hoping to catch any lingering estrous scent.

Hunters in snow country who want to follow a track should seek out similar cover. If you cut the track of a big deer, get on his trail immediately. Still-hunters should cheat toward open cover, hoping to glimpse a good buck on his feet. Move slower than normal, stopping to glass likely cover or set up every so often and rattle. Remember, that mature buck is likely traveling solo and looking hard for other deer. The clacking of antlers will be music to his ears.

To see all the Best Days of the Rut, visit the Rut Reporters page and view the calendar to the right.

Comments (4)

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from steve182 wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I hope you're right. will be out this afternoon.

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from Kevin wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I, too, will be out this afternoon in pursuit of a nice buck with my bow so I hope Nov 23rd is the day! I was out last Sun here in MN and had small bucks chasing does all over and grunting like pigs. Hopefully that carries into today and Mr. Big decides to check out the action and all the commotion!

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from LaBowman wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

We're a month away from rutting activity down here but will get to bow hunt 'til Feb 15, which will get us through the secondary rut. That being said, I will be in my stand this evening now that the front has passed and temps are in the 50's. Hopefully the big 'un will make a daylight visit to my stand!

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from steve182 wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Got rained out here this afternoon but i did find a nice 4x shed antler when scouting a new spot midday. Had already picked out a tree and was pacing yardages in my shooting lanes when i stepped on it. hopefully i'll get to hunt it friday.

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from Kevin wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I, too, will be out this afternoon in pursuit of a nice buck with my bow so I hope Nov 23rd is the day! I was out last Sun here in MN and had small bucks chasing does all over and grunting like pigs. Hopefully that carries into today and Mr. Big decides to check out the action and all the commotion!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

I hope you're right. will be out this afternoon.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from LaBowman wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

We're a month away from rutting activity down here but will get to bow hunt 'til Feb 15, which will get us through the secondary rut. That being said, I will be in my stand this evening now that the front has passed and temps are in the 50's. Hopefully the big 'un will make a daylight visit to my stand!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Got rained out here this afternoon but i did find a nice 4x shed antler when scouting a new spot midday. Had already picked out a tree and was pacing yardages in my shooting lanes when i stepped on it. hopefully i'll get to hunt it friday.

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