I’m a firm believer in pressure and not applying too much of it on the deer. So I make every effort to spread my sits out and hunt different properties. The property I hunt that has produced the most success up until this point of the season is quite large. The pressure on the deer is less due to that fact. Thankfully this large farm is surrounded by other large properties, so in all the deer probably do not receive to much pressure. On this property I’ve found a bedding area that is rather easy to access and I’m able to get in and out quietly. This specific spot has delivered solid deer movement from start to finish of each hunt. This continues to be my best tactic for these October hunts. In addition to this bedding area location there are numerous areas on the property that I continue to hunt with mobile tactics using my Lone Wolf.
My urban property has been a bit slow this year, but has produced a few good bucks moving during the daylight on trail camera. I’m hoping the bucks are moving through the area even more during the rut. Thankfully my father was able to capitalize on a solid urban 8 point on the morning of Oct. 30th. That morning proved to be an awesome morning of hunting for a lot of hunters. The bucks are starting to cruise late morning and mid-day on our trail cameras in this urban environment.
I have another small property we hunt that contained standing corn for a good chunk of the bow season. It’s provided good deer movement during daylight hours but all of the movement continues to be does only so we haven’t this property too hard. There are bucks in the area; the trail camera just shows them all moving under the cover of darkness. Ironically this property is not far from the bedding area I mentioned on the large property. It appears the bucks are moving in the bedding area during daylight hours and not hitting this small food source until later in the night.
I believe it is important to mention that I’ve truly committed to staying out of my main property. It’s exciting knowing this property holds so many bucks, yet it was challenging waiting for what I called the Halloween affect. Once Halloween hits is truly seems like the mature bucks are on their feet. Due to the major cold front that hit right around Halloween I began hunting this property quite hard at the end of October which is a touch earlier then I’d like. The weather temps for November aren’t what I’d hope them to be, so this forced me into thinking that a late October strike may have been my best opportunity. It’s too bad that this year the tactic of staying out did not pay off like it did the previous year. I’ll blame that on pressure from neighboring properties and unusually warm temperatures for a good chunk of the rut. While we did see deer when we finally moved in, we have not seen the bucks we’ve been looking for. This was my most frustrating hunting at my primary property that I can ever remember.
Thankfully even though I had very though hunting at my primary property my father and I made our first trip to Pike County, IL. We did a quick four day trip to Pike County. During this trip we have numerous encounters with 2.5 year old bucks (some of which may have been 3.5). I passed on a 100″ buck and my father passed on a 115″ buck. If I would have had a chance at one of the 115″ bucks I probably would have been more tempted to harvest the animal since the duration of our trip was so short. One of my biggest takeaways from the trip was the effectiveness of rattling in Pike County. We had a tons of success drawing in bucks with rattling on this trip.
Once gun season started back home everything dried up for me. Despite using my mobile Lone Wolf tactics my primary property was simply not producing for me or anyone that was hunting it. Thankfully I have two buddies with rather effective shotgun hunting spots. One of them got me out to his spot for the first time on Saturday November 21st. Too say the hunting was good would be an understatement. Within a few hours we had seen 9 does and bumped 4 more walking out. The following morning November 22nd my hunting life would be changed forever. Despite a very slow start in which my buddy only saw 1 doe way in the distance at 8:00 am we started to see movement at 9:00 am. First 3 does, then 2 more, then a 2.5 year old 6 point, then 2 more does, finally out he stepped. When he breached the woods the sun was shinning perfectly on his rack and you could simply see the tines and this buck in all his glory. Most likely he was one of if not the primary dominate bucks in this area. After a bit of feeding the two bucks headed north to the CRP ground. Personally I thought they were gone for the rest of the morning. Yet 15 minutes after they had disappeared one of the does that had been feeding in the hay had circled through the CRP to the North and chosen to loop back south and step out of the CRP 15 yards from our pop-up tent. My expectations where that more does would be following her. Boy was I wrong. A minute after she had walked directly in front of our pop up tent he stepped out in the same spot she did. I knew right away it was now or never. I quickly shouldered the only gun I truly love and trust. My Remington 870 was bored deep into my shoulder. The 132″ buck was 15 yards away and quickly moving through my first shooting window in the pop-up tent. Worried him or the doe would bust at any moment I quickly pup my sights on this massive deer and all I saw was a nice big body in my scope. I did my best to center the sights and let one rip. Within the blink of an eye he piled into the ground. While he still had a little life left in him the slug did it’s job and we eventually came upon him about 100 yard from where he had first fallen from the shot. Just like that I had the biggest buck of my hunting career down on an incredible snowy morning. To say my buddy and I were excited would be an understatement…we were thrilled! Endless thanks goes out to my buddy Kevin for putting me on a buck hunt I’ll never forget!
Food: Our food plots look good. The chicory is getting cleaned up by the deer. The corn screen has either been destroyed by raccoons or deer. The turnips, radishes, and forage oats are looking great. Hopefully these plots do their job when the time is right.
Minerals: I continue to run minerals throughout the season, but the value of them lessens this time of year. Deer still need the minerals, but since the water content in the forage they’re eating this time of year is not as high as it is in the summer the deer aren’t desiring the minerals quite as much. That being said running minerals throughout the season is not a bad idea.
Water: The water holes have finally filled back up this fall due to some rain, but I cannot be sure how much the deer are using them since I haven’t monitored them closely at all this time of year. At this point in the season they are starting to freeze up.
Trail Cameras: Wow the scrape pictures have been incredible this year. I use Tinks and Buck Fever Pre-Post Rut scents to enhance my scrapes and the activity at them. We just recently got a picture of one of our biggest bucks in the area on a scrape.
Mock Scrapes/Rubs: All of my mock scrapes are pretty much old deer scrapes that I make sure to freshen up and add scent to. Most of them are getting great deer activity. This is an effective way to get deer to stop where you want them too. All of these locations are just off of or directly on deer trails. If the deer are using the scrape well I don’t even touch the scrape in an attempt to keep human scent away from the scrape. Another idea I recently came across is to hang a large rope to act as a licking branch. The rope holds the scent better. I have not done this at this point, but plan to eventually.
Food Source Scouting: When driving to and from hunting properties I’m always looking to see if deer are out in the fields. Now that gun season has arrived I can say I haven’t seen a whole lot of activity with this type of scouting. Nonetheless I keep looking to learn whatever I can. Specifically this can be valuable in the area that I primarily hunt.
Stand Scouting and Preparation: With the Lone Wolf on my back I will continue to try and experiment new things in the late season. I believe surprising mature bucks is one of the best ways to kill them. And countless hunting experts site the first sit as your best chance to arrow a mature buck.
Shooting Practice: As I pick my bow back up in December it is going to be critical to get the Hoyt firing here and there. Getting rust in your form or your shot during the season is certainly a negative. It is also critical to make sure that your bow is firing correctly after all of the transportation it experiences throughout the season.
It’s shocking that the first two months of the deer season are pretty much in the books. Each and every year the deer season flies by. If it is a passion of yours to deer hunt do everything you can to make time to get out there. The experience gleaned from hunting is priceless and it is truly hard to kill mature bucks from your couch. The only exception for not hunting is if you hunt one small property otherwise it is best to keep after it. Hunting smart, changing spots, and hunting often can be a great recipe for success.