Brantley: Still-Hunt Shows Bucks on the Move

Rut Reporter Will Brantley of Murray, Kentucky, knows the region well. He spends 40 to 50 days each season in the Mid-South whitetail woods. Brantley shot his first deer at age 10 with a sidelock muzzleloader. States covered: KY, TN, WV, VA, NC.

Every season, it seems I can look back to a specific date when things seemed to "bust loose" in the deer woods. Last season it was Halloween. In several previous years, it's been October 28--a day on which I've killed two pretty nice bucks in years past.

This year, it was October 27. I had stayed out of the woods all week, given the first half was marked by a warm spell and daytime highs were hitting 80 degrees, but a cold front blew through Wednesday night and Thursday saw highs only in the mid-40s with a light drizzle and steady north wind. I love to still-hunt, and it was an ideal day for it.

I was "in deer" almost immediately, and within 30 minutes, ended up 15 yards away from a small 6-pointer that was working a licking branch. I saw two more bucks as I moved along--both spikes--before I found a pair of red oaks dropping acorns on the edge of a picked bean field. There looked to be a thousand deer tracks under those trees, and so I sat on the ground 30 yards downwind of them and spent the last hour of daylight there.

Just before shooting light ended, a nice 2 ½-year-old 8-pointer cruised to within a few yards of me. At one point, he was at 18 yards--quartering slightly away--and looking in the opposite direction. My release was on the string, my bow was up and ready, but I ultimately decided to pass on him. I like to kill big deer, but I'm not really a "trophy" hunter. He wasn't a trophy, but he was by far the best buck I've had in range all season. I guess the decision to pass was as much to prolong the season as anything. I love to see bucks cruising the woods with that sense of urgency this time of year. And I'm willing to bet there's a lot of that to come in the next few days.