The end of October is generally a crazy time for sportsmen. From fall hunting to fishing to picking a new set of folks that are to run our country, one's head can be spinning like a rutting buck.
It's important that all Americans vote, but it's especially important for sportsmen. The next crop of elected officials is going to shape or re-shape our country and our sport like never done in history. While I have my favorites, it's not my place to share them with you or try to convince you who to vote for. All I can say is this, look at each candidate and his record. Look at what they have done in the past for sportsmen. Have they passed bills and made laws that help sportsmen or have they made it more difficult for sportsmen to enjoy their outdoor pursuits?
I am fortunate enough to have spent time with a bunch of folks running for local, regional and state offices and for the most part they are all good folks. Where the rubber meets the road is what have they done for the sportsmen of Chautauqua County, New York and America. When you look at the records the choice is very easy.
So get out and cast your vote for the future of our great country and the sportsmen of Chautauqua County.
The other crazy time is happening in the woods - the rut. From the signs I have been seeing first hand and reports from other hunters, it looks like bucks are beginning to get at little froggy.
One of the biggest questions I am asked every year is when is the rut going to kick in.
There are many theories about the rut, but I believe that the seven days around the hunter's or harvest moon is when rutting activity in our part of the country starts to pick up.
Some classify the rut as the entire time that breeding activity is going on. Some consider the rut as the one time when breeding actually takes place. Let's just say for now the rut is the entire time that breeding activity is going on.
Next, let's break the rut down into stages: the pre-rut stage, the chasing stage, the actual breeding and the post-rut.
What I like to call the pre-rut is when the bucks are starting to make their mock or territorial scrapes. They are still running with other bucks, but the mature bucks will break off from the bachelor groups first. During this time the doe aren't even thinking about breeding yet.
The chasing stage is when the bucks are beginning to follow the does. During this stage most of the does aren't ready to stand yet. Toward the end of the chasing stage, some does will start to stand, but not hold for the bucks. Then the breeding stage happens.
Post-rut is when most of the does are done breeding, but younger ones might just be getting ready.
Understanding the rut will help you be a better deer hunter. The pre-rut is a good time to see different bucks. During the chasing stage, bucks are following multiple does. During the breeding stage, the bucks are always on the move looking for a hot doe. This makes them tough to pattern. The post-rut is when the bucks are still looking, but not on their feet as much during day light hours.
In the past month hunters I have been fine tuning stand locations. While I generally have the majority of stand locations set up long before opening day, the past couple of years I have been spending more time putting finishing touches on my setups.
During the past few years the use of trail cameras has been gaining a lot of popularity. Having an extra pair of eyes in the woods when I am not there has made the time I get out more exciting. Knowing who's in the area before you actually see them in person really gives one the confidence that helps make those long hours on the stand go by more quickly.
There are plenty of tricks and techniques hunters use each season in their attempt to harvest a big buck. While there is never a short supply of new hunting products on the market to get us closer to game, the majority are used to catch the buyer, not the deer.
Like any tricks or techniques, nothing works all the time. To make a call or anything else work, you first need to have deer in the area. This is where your preseason scouting comes into play. Again, understand your area and know the deer in your area. Know where they feed and where they bed. You need to know their escape routes, and where and how they get from point A to point B.
There are a couple different techniques that have proven to work well over the past couple of years. The first one doesn't just work on young deer; mature bucks will respond just as well. This technique exploits a whitetail's most basic instinct, to be a part of the breeding process.
This is how the technique works. You give a breeding call (a breeding bellow), then a series of grunts and a short rattling series.
There are two different versions of this technique.
The first version is to give the breeding bellow, the grunt and then rattle. This works best on mature bucks. I have discovered that a short series with a 15-second delay after the breeding bellow before you start softly grunting works best. I prefer Oak Ridge Game Calls Pro-Grunter Series because the hunter can get different-sounding grunts by either blowing or sucking on the call. Two different sounding grunts is a must. It gives the visiting buck the feeling that two new boys are in town.
What we are trying to imitate is one doe being chased by two bucks. Therefore you need to have two separate grunt calls to give the illusion of two separate bucks. Make your series about a minute long, throwing in a couple breeding bellows between grunts.
The other version of this technique is a shorter call series, calls followed by a rattling sequence. Then you finish with a couple of grunts from each of the bucks. The whole deal should last no longer then 90 seconds, the shorter the better.
I have discovered that the longer you do the deal, the lower your success will be for overall whitetail sightings. Younger deer will come into a short version, but they may not come into a longer version. It's the old feeling of fear. Ayoung buck doesn't want to get his butt kicked by two old bucks.
When they come with the shorter version call, just watch the action.
The key to each series is to end everything with a couple breeding doe bellows. This lets every deer in the area know that a receptive doe is still in the area.
I have seen larger bucks hang back while smaller bucks come running in to check out the action. So if you're looking for a larger buck, you may want to wait before you shoot the first thing that comes through.
While this technique doesn't work all the time, it does work when there are deer in the area that are interested in breeding. I have used this technique from August to January and from Alabama to New York and have had great success with it. Give it try, you might be surprised, and let me know how you made out.