The Autumn Vigil

Five tips that'll help you stick it out on stand until your buck shows up.

Field & Stream Online Editors

When bucks are on their feet seeking or chasing does, there's no telling when they're going to pass by your stand. It could happen anytime during legal shooting hours. The only thing you can control is whether or not you'll be sitting in that stand when it happens.

The bottom line during the rut is that the longer you can stay put and remain alert, the better your chances of connecting. And while an all-day vigil is more than most hunters can bear, I can personally attest that the five tips below can help you stay on stand long enough to fill your tag.

**[BRACKET "1"] ** SET A GOAL. Don't let boredom dictate the end of your hunt. Set a quitting-time goal and stick to it. I set a high-noon goal for myself on a morning bowhunt last fall. By 11, I was getting fidgety, but I stuck it out. At 11:30, a heavy-beamed 10-pointer trotted in to my rattling antlers and made the long wait more than worth it.

**[BRACKET "2"] ** CALL. Grunting and rattling can pull in a cruising buck-and they give you something to do. Space your calling sessions at about every half hour or so, and they'll help break up the wait.

**[BRACKET "3"] **PACK ENTERTAINMENT. My hunting buddy Kent totes a novel and a radio with an earbud into the woods. The radio is for Cornhusker football games; the book is for halftime. And he kills a nice buck every fall.

Sure, these distract you from your surroundings, but if they keep you on stand longer during the rut, use them.

**[BRACKET "4"] ** GET DOWN. When you feel you can't take it for another second, instead of ending the hunt altogether, climb down from your stand and still-hunt for a while or take a nap at the base of the tree. A short break is often all you need to sit for another hour or two, and that can make all the difference.

**[BRACKET "5"] ** EAT WELL. Pack some indulgent treats and a lunch you'll savor if you're planning to stay through the noon hour. Use snacks as a reward for staying longer. Yes, you may gain a few pounds on stand. But you may well burn them off dragging out your buck.