Every deer hunter could refine their technique, especially during the October lull. The third in our three part series, we are going to talk about how you can make rutting work to your advantage and how to avoid the fanfare of crowds.
Big deer have a different nature and are not so much smarter as they are more instinctual, compared to their younger, smaller counterparts. If something seems off, such as your presence on or around their deer run, they typically will sense it and turn back. They can smell you from about 80 feet away. What they decide to do with this knowledge determines if they grow into larger buck and doe in the first place.
There are very few exceptions to the rule stating you will not come across a blindly charging 8 point buck focused on the heat of the rut with no cognition of his surroundings or your presence. Big bucks have trusted their instincts for their 2+ years on earth and that’s why they make a great kill. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and you are very unlikely to pick off anything more than an eight pointer from a tree stand nine feet above their head. So in proper camo and odor cover-up, try and position yourself from no less than 50 feet from a rub.
Even as a rookie hunter, you know the most deer activity occurs during rutting and is subsequently the best time to hunt. But among the most important components to this is something you can’t even see. An invisible force which can change the entire course of your day and should never come between you and your buck is none other than the wind.
Not only is keeping the direction of prevailing winds in mind during the rut imperative, but so too is having a reliable exit strategy. When the winds shift, every buck downwind from will turn back up to 200 feet shy of your perch, depending on wind velocity. And though bucks are on the hunt during this time and much more visible, remember they are using the wind just as much as you are, but to seek doe and detect estrus. When they detect your scent as well, it will send them running the other way.
The big deer are the more instinctual ones. That’s why they have been on earth long enough to grow into big ones. Leveraging their own tools and tricks against them is the only way to beat them at their own game. Rutting is the best way to passively draw buck out from under cover, but when you are too close to their daily routine, their instincts to jet in the other direction kick in and you lose your shot.