I am just about to leave the office to do the Lincoln Deer Hunting Workshop at the Lancaster Extension Office and thought….I really wish a lot of hunters would forget about all the “stuff” they have read or heard over the years and simply focus their deer hunting on the does for more success in the field. Each year I hear about rifle hunters that could not find “the one” they were after but they were really focusing on hunting bucks or did not see any does but wanted to harvest an antlerless deer. The problem? They were hunting bucks when they should be hunting does. For those worried this is another “let’s harvest more does” speech….you need not worry. I realize there are many that also enjoy the dream of taking the next “big one!”
Here is the problem. Many of us spend our time hunting “buck sign”, especially during the early archery season, then forget to change tactics once the rut kicks into high gear…during a time that should really be our best opportunity of harvesting a nice buck. The reason is simple….too many stands are still sitting over a scrape or rub line assuming bucks are still using these areas in the normal manner they were when they made the sign. The rut changes everything and if we are not changing our tactics appropriately, we are doomed to simply be bird watchers.
Once does are in estrous, bucks change their activity drastically. True they may still use their core habitat, but they begin focusing very specifically on does. They will follow does to bedding areas, feeding areas, loafing areas, etc. Then when you think you have them figured out…they change their attention to other does that have recently come into estrous!
Rifle hunters really should focus their scouting on doe feeding and bedding areas. They stay pretty consistent and when the rut starts, instead of chasing bucks around the county…those deer will come to you! Now that is efficient! Focus attention on those corridors or transition zones linking doe bedding and feeding areas. Right now, bucks are cruising these zones trying to find as many estrous does with as little effort as possible. Try to avoid too much pressure on bedding areas as this can push does out of your area fast and with them the bucks.
Also, during the rut, movement can occur all day as bucks continually cruise transition zones looking for the next “hot” doe. Stay on stand as long as you possibly can. You have to be out there to see deer. Also, have your rifle ready (safety on but ready to mount at a moments notice). Often, the difference between seeing a nice deer and harvesting a nice deer is just being ready for the shot when it was presented.
In all of this, don’t forget that we need you to take a doe or two in many regions of the state. Also, let’s keep safety at the focus of every hunt. Use tree stand safety best practices (for darn sure where that fall restraint system)! Remember to wear the required 400 square inches of blaze orange on the head and torso (front and back) and also don’t forget to have fun. Let’s keep those muzzled pointed in a safe direction at all times, use the safety and for goodness sake never shoot at a sound or movement and only after you have clearly identified your target and what is beyond it should you miss!
Deer hunting is supposed to be fun! Share this season with a new hunter and it will be even more fun!
Get Em’ Out There