Trying a hunting tactic for the first time and having success with it is one of those experiences that can not fully be communicated to anyone who is not a hunter. The look on the face of Mike Stimmell, my deer scouting partner, when he popped out of his pickup in my driveway, gave me a pretty good clue about the tale he was about to tell me.

Stimmell recently found what he figured was a good deal on an inflatable doe decoy. I saw it in its uninflated form soon after he bought it. It looked pretty good, considering how easily portable it is. But whether it would attract a buck was another matter.

Stimmell set up the decoy within 20 yards of his tree stand, positioned so that he would be downwind from approaching deer. He sprayed doe urine (not doe in heat urine) next to it. Does and fawns passed the stand while he sat. He did not have long to wait.


Stimmell identified a deer as a legal buck while it was slowly walking past the stand, in a direction that would not take it into a shooting situation. But then the buck obviously hit the scent trail coming from the decoy. It paused for a few moments, tilting its head back while sniffing. It moved just a step or two, which may have taken it into view of the decoy, because then it turned 90 degrees and trotted straight toward the fake. The buck stopped close to the decoy to look and sniff things over while it was in a quartering-away position. This was its undoing. Stimmell’s well-placed arrow hit toward the rear of the rib cage, then passed through both lungs. The heavy blood trail only went about 40 yards, to where the buck’s legs gave way.

“I knew from experience how far back the arrow should hit,” Stimmell said. “I hit an 8-point just a little too far forward at a quartering away angle and had a long, tough tracking job to find it.”

His buck was far from record class, with a modest 8-point rack, but has good body weight, and it’s a mature Big Woods buck.

Numerous deer hunters call this the pre-rut period. I have used that term, but as of late prefer not to. Some does have already bred, but the majority has not been. Make no mistake about this, the rut is underway. There should be a peak to the rut sometime for a few days during the time frame of early November to mid-November in this Northeast Region.

Robert Rogan, in Connecticut, reported the same as we have seen. “Things are ramping up, so we should get the good stuff going here soon.”

Dan Seaman, owner of Elk Creek Sports, reports things in his area are the same. His customers come from the northwest corner of Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio, in the heart of what many anglers believe to be the best steelhead fishing in the country. A few big bucks have been taken, including a big 17-point buck from his back yard, but he expects the rut will start to peak during the next couple of weeks.