Whitetail Hunting photo

Nov. 2: Those of you who’ve read our annual “Best Days to Hunt the Rut” feature from the November issue of the magazine are well aware that yesterday was the second of the seven best days we selected for hunting this year’s rut.


In the interest of full disclosure, I must report that my sum total of deer encounters that day was far from impressive. One decent buck early in the morning (following a doe with only mild interest), and one forkhorn two hours later constituted my day’s buck count. In the last minutes of my evening sit, I heard an animal of heavy foot and obvious trophy proportions approaching my stand. I grabbed my bow expectantly….only to spot a shuffling opossum. I passed on the marsupial and will have to find antlers another day.

But my experience turned out to be the exception. That evening and the next day, contacts from around the region kept my cell phone ringing constantly. Northern Missouri coughed up a dandy 11-point, 150-class buck for one friend. An Illinois hunter missed a giant buck she’d been hunting when the deer lurched at a nearby doe just as she shot. Another Minnesota friend texted me a photo of his trophy; a 165-inch buck with a huge kicker point off his G2. That buck was the 8th buck he’d seen during a full day on the stand.

And finally, one of my favorite hunting partners called that evening to report that he’d shot the second largest buck of his life. Tom VanDoorn is a dear friend and whitetail expert from northern Wisconsin. Tom knew that a secluded field on his property was not only flush with buck sign, but being visited by whitetails throughout the day. Tom hunkered in for a sit long before first light and resolved to stay ’til dusk. During the course of an action-packed day, Tom (above) saw seven different mature bucks, and late in the afternoon this giant 11-point followed a doe within bow range.

The lesson to me is obvious: When you’re choosing the best days to hunt, good friends can make even a possum-chaser like me look like they’ve got a crystal ball…