Travis Bucholz, who guides for Tri-State Outfitting, is only 33, but he’s put in enough hours in a treestand to really know his stuff. And what Bucholz saw last Saturday afternoon in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, had him very excited about his morning hunt on Sunday. “I watched a deer we call the Apple Tree buck walk past me, and he was just a mess; one eye was gone, and the right side of his rack was busted up from fighting,” he says. “As he walked toward a huge-bodied 8-point, the other buck scared him off with a loud snort-wheeze. By the end of that sit, I’d seen six different bucks, and that big 8 had snort-wheezed all night. I bet he did it 15 or 20 times. With that many bucks around, and acting the way they were, I knew there had to be a doe in heat in the area.”


The next morning, Bucholz took a stand deeper in the woods, where he’d seen most of the bucks head at the end of Saturday’s hunt. “I was actually a little late getting set up because of the time change,” he says. “It was shooting light when I finally settled in, and I’d just started can-calling, followed by tending grunts, when the woods just came alive. First a pair of nice 3-year-old bucks came in, and both snapped their heads toward an upwind ravine. They headed right toward it, and I knew they could smell other deer in there. Well, they’d just reached that ravine when they turned and came trotting out. Behind them, already in bow range, came this monster, walking toward me. I was already holding my bow thank goodness, because I still barely had time to make the shot.”

Bucholz hit the 11-point, 160-class giant perfectly. “We run a lot of cameras and know a lot of the bucks on the farm. But this one was a stranger; I think he lived nearby and either caught the scent of that first doe coming in, or was attracted by the sound of all that chasing and calling. All I know is, I put a lot of hours in the tree and passed a lot of bucks, waiting for one like this.”

In terms of daytime deer activity, reports have been mixed lately. This is the kind of news I’ve been waiting to hear–full-on aggressive rut behavior. Yesterday morning, I didn’t get into my stand until 8 a.m., but between then and 11, four pretty good bucks cruised past my stand, no doubt searching for mates. The switch is flipping.