social Hunting Blog
Only 5 Days to Hunt
When Do I Hunt by Kyle Wieter
When it comes to my home state of Illinois, I have two favorite times of the year to hunt. I absolutely love the post rut and the late season. I will break down the stages of the rut as simple as I can to give you my perspective as to why I prefer the post rut over any other stage of the breeding season. I will talk about the late season in another post.
First and foremost, in certain areas of the Illinois, the deer population is, in my opinion out of balance. We have far more does than bucks, which can make certain times of the deer season very difficult to hunt for a mature buck.
The Pre-Rut is obviously a magical time for any bowhunter. When I notice rubs, and scrapes starting to show up, along with more daylight buck sightings, I know we are in the pre-rut stages. I will normally hang stands close to bedding areas for my morning sit. Depending on the lay of the land, I could be setting at a major bottleneck such as a steep banked creek, where the deer are crossing in a certain spot; or at the head of a narrow thicket leading to a bedding area. The buck activity such as rubs, scrapes and sightings always picks up in these narrow passages as well; which is a dead giveaway on who's using them. Another advantage of a narrow bottleneck is the deer are almost always in bow range while slipping through. One important observation I've noticed over the years, is the older class bucks seem to be closer to their own bedding area right at daylight during this time of year. With age comes knowledge, and they know the rut is close, but not happening yet. Let me repeat that I hope to find these pinches close, but not too close to the BUCKS bedding area.
During my evening sits, I will move to staging areas. Sitting off the food source, just behind the staging area in an ambush position hoping to catch a mature buck bringing up the rear of the deer movement. This also allows me to slip out undetected when all the deer have moved passed by me to feed at the major food sources.
The tough part of the pre rut, is once the first doe comes in, it's a guarantee that the dominant buck of the area will have her. After this happens, the rest of the doe herd starts to come in shortly thereafter and you will have to rely on some luck being giving to you by the deer hunting gods. Once the breeding starts, the opportunity to strike has all but disappeared... for a while anyways.
Again, the pre-rut can be an incredible time of year. However, in my opinion, there is a very short window of opportunity to capitalize by putting yourself in position and/or call in a mature buck.
Peak breeding is even tougher simply because you have to catch that same buck 'in between' hot does. This can be a difficult hunt simply because it won't take him long to pick up another girlfriend. This part of the rut can leave us bowhunters scratching our heads wondering where all the older bucks have gone, and when we do see a good buck during peak rut, calling to him can be very frustrating. He's usually pre-occupied with bird dogging a 'hot doe' trail and won't pull off to check out who's in the neighborhood grunting or fighting. Would you?
As the old saying goes, find the does and you will find the bucks. Never has a statement been so true and should be applied during the peak breeding period. I start hunting more of the doe groups, always playing the wind, being able to slip in and out undetected. In the mornings, I shift from hunting buck bedding areas, to hunting close to doe bedding areas. A buck on the move looking for a new girlfriend will start to head to the nearest doe bedding area. In the evenings, I hunt the staging areas just like the pre-rut. Again, always playing the wind and being able to slip in and out undetected.
Post Rut is by far my favorite part of the breeding season to hunt. I catch more mature bucks on their feet during daylight hours of the post rut than all other stages of the breeding season combined. His desire to breed will put him on the move for longer hours, looking for one of the last 'hot does' of the first estrous cycle; or a doe that is starting to come in for the secondary breeding season. This alone makes me sit even longer, knowing mature bucks are up and moving more during legal shooting hours.
Another benefit to post rut hunting is the older bucks seem to be very receptive to calling. Once I spot a buck, I am either going to sit quiet if he's heading toward me; or go into my bag of tricks and pull out whatever I need to turn him to head my direction. If he's close, I will grunt softly, or if there's a lot of real estate between him and I, my rattling antlers will come into play.
In the region of Illinois that I hunt, long narrow creek bottoms with fingers of timber leading up into doe bedding is the ticket. A buck is trying to cover as much ground as possible with his nose, not his hooves. That being said, I use what I call, 'the almost wrong for me, and almost right for him' type of wind. The bucks seem to travel at a crosswind through these bottoms to again, cover more ground with their noses, and I try to position myself accordingly. It can be a tricky hunt, trying to keep my scent from blowing into a doe bedding area, while also keeping it from hitting a buck in the nose. However, this set up has put more mature bucks in the bed of my truck than any other during the rut.
Adrenalize Your Hunt,
Browse Blog Posts
Choose a Cagetory
Recent Blog Posts
- Spring Stand and Trail Prep By Pro-Staffer Jason Herbert
- Spring Turkey Scouting
- Shed Season
- The "Almost Buck" by Trophy Ridge Prostaffer Dan Schultz
- Hunting Hardcore....My Way part 2 or Gate to the Promised Land by Trophy Ridge Prostaffer Dan Schultz
- Hunting Hardcore....My Way by Trophy Ridge Prostaffer Dan Schultz
- Stand Placement
- Only 5 Days to Hunt
- Only 5 Days to Hunt
- Only 5 Days to Hunt