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_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.
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Dec. 10: With the rut in the mid-south reaching a hiatus until next fall, it’s a good time to look back on the season and ask a few questions. How was the rut in your area, overall? Was it better or worse this season than in years past? Did you see more deer, or fewer of them? And, what did you learn this hunting season that you’ll carry over to next year?

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Personally, the rut activity in my area was a little more pronounced this year than usual. I’ve talked about that a lot in this blog–cold weather and good timing just made for good hunting.

I’ve also learned a few things. I’ve used deer scents a lot this year, way more than I have in the past, and they worked. I used drag-rags and kept a pump-spray bottle of doe pee in the stand with me at all times starting at the end of Halloween, and sprayed a mist of it downwind every half hour or so when I was hunting. I had numerous bucks follow it right in.

The importance of staying in the tree was reinforced to me this year as well. You read all the time to hunt all day during the rut–but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m impatient and have climbed down way too soon in years past. This year, I made sure to carry lunch, a thermos of coffee and a book with me to the stand once the rut kicked in, and I pulled several all-day sits. I saw quite a few bucks at midday, too, and ultimately filled a buck tag at 2:30 in the afternoon.

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I hunted from ladder stands a little more than usual, too–they’re comfortable, easy to access and rock-solid. I credit my wife, Michelle, for talking me into buying a couple new ones (that’s her in the pictures–she’s learned how to kill the hell out of deer with a bow this year).

Overall, it’s been a great season, and I’ve had a ball with this blog. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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