Rutting Whitetails

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Keagan Keddell

Nov 01, 2022·5 mins read
Rutting Whitetails-image

When the leaves start to fall, the temps start to drop and the bucks begin to chase, we as hunters start to flock to the woods. Trail cameras get checked, scrape lines begin to be formed and the excitement builds, just waiting for the opportunity of a lifetime. Rumors from the local watering holes start to echo through your mind. Tales of 10 pointers grunting, chasing and checking out the local ladies begin to become more and more frequent. You are drawn into the woods more than ever, now to just go do it.

You jump into the truck, bed loaded down with stands and tree trimmers, ready to find out exactly where you’re going to be spending the next couple weeks. Remembering that you’re going to be sitting in the treestand all day long during the peak of the rut, you’ve grabbed the hang on stands with big platforms and comfy seats; you’ll thank yourself in a few days. Pulling up to the gate and looking at the topo maps of the property, you know that you’re going to be looking to put your stand up in a high travel area with good visibility, near or between thick bedding and a food source. More than likely you’ll be back in the woods, off of the field edges. Once the tree has been found, the stand hung and bow hangers put in place it’s time to make and remember to clean up your path into the stand. As important as playing the wind is while bow hunting, make sure and double check your prevailing winds for that area. If you have to gamble on what the winds might be, that is going to be your best bet. Additionally one of those things that often gets overlooked, but this time of year being so close to where your target buck is going to be living and chancing spooking any deer is just silly. 

In an ideal world, you’ve got enough trail cameras to be able to have eyes on multiple parts of the property. With the invention of cell cam’s, you now have a leg up on being able to see what deer is making scrapes without ever having to go into those areas and disrupt anything. Having cell cameras placed in high travel areas can also help alert you to whitetail movements on the property while you’re up in the tree as well. Any advantage that you can get on the all day sits this time of year is a huge gamechanger. When camera costs start to become an issue, mixing cell cameras and non cellular cameras on property is a great solution and easy to keep tabs on what is happening on your hunting ground. 

Fast forward a few days, it is the night before your first sit in the new set and you’re double checking your gear list. The obvious things like your bow and that jazz are a no brainer, this isn’t your first rodeo. But, there are a couple extra pieces of gear that might just give you the ability to be able to grind it out. As you’re grabbing these, you’re probably going to think of your great-great grandpappy and his legendary plaid shirts, ham salad sandwich and tobacco pipe, but this is a different era. This is the era of phone chargers, Yeti mugs and heated apparel, so take advantage of it. Let’s face it, you’re going to be sitting in the stand for an entire day, you will get cold no matter what gear you’ve got. This is where you can utilize heated seat pads from HyperHeat, heated socks and gloves from companies like Gobi and actually be comfortable out there in the stand. Since you’ve got your hands all toasty warm you’ll end up playing on your phone, bring a battery pack (buy a decent one, don’t be a cheapskate) that is big enough to last in the cold temps. Pretty hard to look at trail cam pictures, or instagram, when your phone is dead. Be honest with yourself here, this is one of the most exciting times of the deer season but you’re going to spend quite a few very un-exciting hours out there. Being able to be comfortable, moderately entertained, warm and well fed you are without a doubt going to have more opportunities to get after your target buck. There are no trophies for roughing it, being miserable and not being able to feel your feet. 

Alarm goes off, coffee maker turned on and it’s time to finally get your chance to draw the Mathews back on that stud rut buck. Quietly slipping into the stand, well before first light and settling in your anticipation building as the woods begin to awaken. Hearing the birds begin their morning songs and watching the first gentle glowing beams of the sun coming out of hiding, you are ready. Your eyes constantly scan the woods for the first sign of anything in the Odocoileus genus with antlers. But this is the game of patience, waiting for a hot doe to come out through the woods with Mr. Big Boy hot on her tail. You’ve got days to spend out here and it’s time to make the most of it. Rattling horns, a grunt tube and a pair of headphones so you can watch a Primos YouTube video in the stand on how to do it after the third day of not being sure if what you’re doing is actually working. Just be patient, you have to earn it. 

Finally, the deer you’ve been looking for comes into view. He’s hot on a doe’s keister and you’re ready for him to come charging through. Instead, out of nowhere the duo beds down. Still in sight, but far enough away you’d never be able to get a shot. Movement all around you and your target buck just lays there, watching his date and waiting for her to be ready to expand the gene pool. Here is where your patience truly gets tested. How long can you sit and watch? How long can they lay there undisturbed by the other commotion echoing throughout the woods? But, sooner or later all of those questions will get answered. 

You’ve known how many other mature deer have been in the area, you’ve plenty of pictures throughout the last year. Now is the time that those numbers of deer pay off. Inevitably one of those deer is going to be looking for that same doe your target buck is. At some point, the odds are that the lovely couple in front of you is getting bumped and if you’ve picked your stand right, coming straight to you. From here, it’s all timing. Your draw, when their eyes are hidden, a “meh” to stop him in range and a well placed arrow. The rest is history.

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