Seek Small Does to Find Big Second-Rut Bucks

by Gerald Almy

The primary rut may be over, but big bucks are still looking for mates. Yearling and fawn does aren't typically ready to breed until three or four weeks after the main rut. Those young females are the ticket to your late-season success. Here's how to capitalize.

Find the Fawns
Young females appear long-legged with thin, slight, square-shaped bodies. A fawn's nose is short, and its ears appear almost too big. Compared with male fawns, females have narrowly tapered faces and lack pedicles in front of their ears. You can identify them at a food source--they're smaller than other females. Also, as the secondary rut approaches, they'll begin to pull away from the group. You'll often find them feeding alone, 50 to 150 yards away from the others. They'll also bed and travel slightly away from the main group. Speed-scout for their small tracks just off to one side of where the other does are living. They will be (a) downwind, since bucks will be approaching from that direction to scent-check the does, and/or (b) toward the nearest thick security cover where big bucks hole up.

Set Up on the Buck
Next, scout likely travel corridors connecting these areas to known buck lairs. Hang your stand where you find the odd super-fresh rub or large fresh tracks. In open country, glass for small, isolated does. When you find one, use binoculars to search nearby thickets for her mate. Then make a looping crosswind stalk. With the buck's attention locked on the doe, you can move in for a shot.