On the 10th of November not long ago only one deer moved past my stand, a 6-point wandered by at 40 yards, never stopping, obviously with a destination in mind. He ignored my grunt tube completely, how rude!
The next morning daylight revealed a fresh scrape beside the trail to my stand along with a respectable buck rub. That buck’s tracks were fresh, the dirt still damp. Now, that was very exciting.
Full of anticipation, I climbed into my stand and wondered what the day might bring. Early morning and late evening are the best times to hunt pre-rut but experience has taught me the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are prime times as well when unattached bucks are on their feet looking for a hot lady to beguile.
Today, the sun was high and hot, the temperature in the 70s. It could very easily have been July, it sure felt like it. The balmy weather was putting me asleep. My eyelids grew heavier and heavier, by noon my head down on my arms, eyes shut, desperately trying to stay awake. As often as possible I raised my head to look around.
Suddenly, I opened my eyes, alert, sensing something had changed, but what?
My eyes focused and scanned the surrounding forest. What in the world was that? A shiny patch of silver light approximately a foot square shimmered in front of me 70 yards away. It hadn’t been there before. Raising my binoculars and focusing them revealed the patch of shimmering light alright, just larger. What in the world could that be? A movement below the reflection, a head raised and I found myself staring at an 8-point buck. The sun’s rays reflecting off the smooth hair on his back were responsible for that bright image.
The buck continued down the trail and I shot him at 24 yards. Glancing at my watch showed it was 1:15 p.m. Thank goodness I’d stayed in the stand.
Can you believe it’s already September? Archery season is rushing upon us and it’s time to get the bow out, dust it off and begin shooting. Arrows need checked, your bow may need work, perhaps there’s something you never quite got around to improving or repairing. Broad heads may need to be replaced or sharpened. Maybe your release needs to be upgraded after trying your buddy’s newest model or the last TV commercial. Preparing takes time and with archery season rapidly approaching it’s unwise to procrastinate fine tuning your bow and more importantly your shooting accuracy.
One of the best ways to become a more proficient shot’s to spend the majority of your time practicing at 50 yards. At that distance every little error or mistake is magnified and becomes glaringly apparent. Your hold, release and follow through must be perfect or your shot flies far off, sometimes alarmingly so. Once you can consistently hit well inside a paper plate at 50 yards, shooting at 30 yards seems like child’s play and you’ll be amazed how well and how tightly you can place your arrows.
Hopefully, your trail cameras are out and you have a handle on what bucks are on your property or hunting location. If not, knowing where the bucks traditionally make their scraps and run lines is a good place to check first. Usually, buck scrapes and rubs are predictable to a large degree, seldom far from the previous years. Spot lighting, while it’s still legal, can be informative as well and fun for the family. After all, bigger bucks are largely nocturnal.
Scout for food sources such as apple trees, acorns, corn fields, hayfields with clover and any other food sources which may attract deer. Very shortly the bachelor groups of bucks will begin breaking up as rivalries begin and larger bucks establish their dominance.
Just before the beginning of archery season patterning a buck moving to an evening food source is a great way to fill your tag. This opportunity only lasts the first week as a general rule, get right on it. After that first week the bucks, for unknown reasons, break from their previous feeding pattern and become very unpredictable as to their movement.
If you’ve hung a stand on a hot spot to hunt during the rut, I strongly urge you to stay far from it during all of October. Bigger bucks are paranoid, afraid of their own shadow. Any hint of human activity, nothing escapes their attention, one nose full of your lovely body odor, can and often does spook them. They may move past your stand again, but only at night.
My most productive stand allows me to walk up a small stream for 400 yards. This completely cleans my boots and leaves no scent trail at all in and out. It makes a difference.
So, practice, practice, practice and become an expert and disciplined shot. Try to get a handle on the habits of any specific bucks you’re chasing, the does they’re after and any travel corridors bucks use when searching for love. Get as high as possible, remain scent free and stay in your stand all day during the first two or three weeks of November. Remember the middle of the day is a prime time for wandering bucks, don’t leave your stand for lunch. If you do all these things well, success may be just around the corner.