Ok.. Peak Rut has just finished or is near finishing where you are now what??
Well about 28 days after the peak rut you're going to get your chance! The second rut is going hit, meaning best get your gear moved and ready to be cold (well at least where I am anyways). That means you best get scouting again, but when are you going to do that with everyone out there hunting and your hunting. If you have to hunt the way I do, you need to plan plan plan. That means figuring out where you are going, planning where you will be in relation to where you want to scout, then unfortunetly that means leaving your spot 30 mins early from your stand, then scouting around for a bit, then heading home to get to work.
So now that you have a plan, what do you need to do. You need to find the bedding areas and the young does. Find the trails that lead from bedding area to bedding area. Find the scrapes and rubs, they will be there. Finding these will allow you find the bucks, the big bucks aren't going to be too interested in feeding as much, as they are going to be trying to hit the does that are a little younger or yearlings that are just coming into estrus for the first time. If you can find these, most of the bucks should be in the 2.5+ year range as the older bucks are getting tired have learned that the rut is a marathon, not a sprint. The younger bucks on the other hand haven't figured this out yet and are done for the year usually. Here's the next thing, along with the bedding areas, try to find the areas in your state that have had higher does harvests for the year. This will typically allow the younger does to come in to the area and since they come into estrus later, boom there's your second shot!
Now, if that's not going to work for you as it's to thick or no solid bedding areas.
Find the thick parts of the area your hunting and find the secondary escape routes that lead to food. Deer that aren't fully getting into the second rut are going to be hitting these trails to the feeding areas, but since the primary trails are or have been hunted, hit the secondary or teriary escape routes. These should have decent trails and sign for heading out deer to feed. Gett a solid spot and you should be in for some great action.
The second rut is about doing your extra home-work and staying "after school" to get the work done. At this point you have a week or two of regular hunting and getting some scouting in afterward, then get ready to hit the rut again, just deeper in the woods or places that most people aren't will to get to. Perhaps, this is the time to get that climber out and while scouting find or mark some trees that will work, so you don't need to try and find them in the dark.
Good luck to you guys out there and hit that seond rut hard, most bucks this time of year that are still rutting are going to be shooters. Just keep that in mind, you might just might get that wall hanger in Dec for an early present!!
It is time..
You have been waiting and thinking about it. You have been counting 10-pointers to go to sleep at night and dreaming about it all night long. The rut is just about starting, have you created your plan?
Here's a better question, have you decided HOW you are hunting the RUT? Something you are going to need to do, the primary moon schedule hits on the 14th, PEAK RUT should be right around the same time. Something that should be thought of, given that this year we have a "Late RUT" and a late RUT moon cycle. This means that probably starting around the 13 - 15th of next week, chasing is going to start hitting hard everywhere.
This year is a late rut, this sometimes means that depending on where you live you could have a trickle out rut. Meaning the traditional rules for the rut DON'T count and new thoughts need to be implored. So what do you need to watch for?
Weather Patterns and Pressure --
I have found that deer move more when something of a pressure front is showing. A temperature move, something that is different with the pattern or pressure goes up. Something needs to change and for this change you need to be in your stand to get that buck.
The pressure needs to be up, above 30.1. On the way in to a storm or out of a storm. Again, this is a time to be in a stand. Deer feel this and are going to move to get ready for what ever is coming.
Watching Scrapes / Rubs --
You need to keep watching the scrapes and rubs, they aren't just for pre-RUT times. Deer leave scent there every time they hit it and it is just not for does to notice them. It marks their area, shows their dominance and tells other bucks still after the rut that this is my area.
Overcast Days --
People I talk with and from what I have seen and patterned. Deer move on quite a bit on overcast days, I have nothing scientific to support this opinion. Just people talking, seen and patterned, they seem to like these days more than sunny days from what I have seen. This goes back to watching the weather patterns and pressure.
Find your does --
Find the does, everyone shows the big pictures of antlers and what not, but what they are looking for. DOES and that's pretty much all there is to it. Food is a second thought for bucks, though if you can find a nice trail with White or Pin Oaks (see my post on Acorns) that leads to a field that you have does on camera and you should be seeing some good movement.
At the end of the day, this late rut and overall warm temps have messed with the deer senses and presumably will create a trickle out rut. This overall could be good for hunters giving them more "RUT TIME" than what would normally be out there. You still need to watch everything your doing and deer are still unpredictable, BUT they should be moving all over for the next week or two.
Get out there and get in a stand!!!
When out scouting, what is it that your actually looking for? For some people they are looking for trails, others pinch points, still others from what I have heard really don't know what they are looking for. They just kinda wander around the woods till they find something that looks interesting and get some cams up and see what they find.
Something I have found, then started researching more on and asking people. I have found that what I'm looking for are acorns and in particular. Groups of Oak trees, that are dumping acorns. From there is typically where I start looking for trails, that will lead to feeding areas in fields, bedding areas or water sources. What I have found is that, if you find acorns and oak trees, typically you have found a nice little honey pot that should produce some nice bucks. That is unless I have food plots that I have planted for which I can monitor via cams, but this article
So here's the issue, in researching oak trees, there are a few different types of oak trees (as I'm sure you all know). Though, at that point, most people think, so it's an oak tree, tons of acorns it's treestand time!!
Well hold on a minute there!! What type of oak tree is it? When are deer actually going to be showing there?
There are multiple types of oak trees, so before you take all that gear out there. What type of oak tree is that group or honey plot full of? Acorns are like candy to a deer, though if you read my other blog post about knowing the land your hunting, you should know where all the oak trees are. Now you have your stands out either covering the trails or hunting over the acorns, but your stands aren't producing. Now your like what the $^#%@???
So that means we need to figure out first what type of oak tree you have, then if deer actually going to be hitting that. So that brings the question, what kind of acorns do deer like? Deer tend to like all acorns, but there is an order or preference or order they will eat acorns in based on the type of oak tree.
Ok, so what type of acorns do deer prefer over others. So for that, I found a great article on bowsite.com stating the preferences of acorns that deer like and why.
Order of preference:
1. White Oak
2. Pin Oak
3. Red Oak
4. Black Oak
5. Bur Oak
6. Live Oak
The order of preference is based on the tannic acid level inside the acorn. The White Oak Tree produces a very low tannic acid and have a very sweet taste to deer. If you find a crop or grouping of White Oak trees, you might have found a golden honey pot that should produce deer, most every year. Though, you'll need to understand the produce of Acorn levels per Oak Tree type to know how often that group will produce deer.
So, the next time your out scouting and you come across a oak tree grouping or now something that you can look for on all your properties is what type of oak trees are on the property, if any. Then based on that, you can then make a better prediction as to when deer are likely to show up at your oak tree grouping, based on the order of preference.
We all know, you need to do your homework when it comes to helping ensure you get your target buck. But how many times have you had permission to hunt on a lot, then next thing you know for whatever reason you don't get out there to do proper scouting for that lot. Then your relying on other people potentially that might have permission to hunt on the same lot. Then, you decide, I'm just going to head out there and hit one of their stands and see let's get one!!
So your sitting in their stand and nothing, then your out the next day and nothing again. Wait a week and still nothing. This is where you start kicking yourself for not doing your homework and figure why not. Let's go take a look around the land now, since there doesn't appear to be anything around anyways. Down your tree you go and start looking.
This happened to be the exact scenario I hit early this year due to circumstances outside my control. Primarily I was focusing on one lot that I had and during spring turkey season had seen deer walk past me, out in the field and all over. I lot that was down the street from is 87 acres, but spread with a road between it. Also, I was told that three others have permission to hunt there as well and that one of the other guys really scouts and concentrates on that area. Then, since I tried talking with them and nothing really became of it, I figured it wasn't worth it, so I didn't neccessarily write it off, but wasn't going to make it a primary area. Long story short, the area that I had focused on, the farmer caused issues me, so I had to write it off as hunting area. This was a week before hunting season started. So all the work I had put in, was all but useless.
Then, a buddy of mine that has 60 acres of land let me hunt his property. He's a hunter as well, so perfect, stands out already, cams out with pictures of bucks, bingo! So at that point, I had that new lot and the other lot. So at this point, I'm hunting at both and start looking deeper into the lot that is pretty all but next door to my house, that had the three other hunters on it. The primary hunter of the place really doesn't get out there as much as everyone says he does. So when I find a stand, he said that I can use it and since it is now hunting season I'm like score. Sit in the stand for a few times and don't see or hear anything.
The last time I get out of the stand and down the tree, I have an extra hour of time. So I start looking around and in talks with the other guys, they said that the area is just too thick to get through and they don't go in that area really. Well, I figured, lets see how bad that really is. Overall, it wasn't super bad, here comes the important part..
I found in that area, three primary runs through the thicket, tracks all through there and found some deer scat with steam still coming off!!! SAY WHAT!!!! Well, looks like I found the deer, so now let's find some area that is a little more open to hang a stand. Then next thing I know I'm so far into the thicket that I'm like, yea.. there would be finding this thing if I did put it out. So I start heading out and found two huge trails through the thicket that end at a bedding area and a water source with tracks and tracks and tracks!! Score!!!
So at this point, I have a cam out there now to try to catch them and start some patterning. Then, trying to figure out where to get a stand out there, but it doesn't look like that might be the case. So, I might be bringing my turkey blind out there for deer hunting.
That right there is my case and point, no matter where you are going to be hunting. You really need to take the time and learn the lot, while on this lot I still have lots to learn as I have a few other ideas for the other side of the thicket since there's an apple orchard that borders it. Knowing your lot, learing it, spending the time in the woods at each of the places, finding trails and getting cams out there and them patterning them with the moon, dates, wind and pressure. Then, finding where / when and why they are going through there will totally improve your odds. I have been hunting in my youth for years, then teaching my kids now and still because of things outside my control. I totally forgot one of the major and primary rules to deer hunting, which is..
THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING YOUR LAND
Here's a question, how many of you when patterning your deer follow the moon phases as well? I got curious with that and wanted to know more about the moon phases and how it works with the deer and the rut phases. As everyone states, the moon does affect deer patterning to an extent, but what extent is that? According to old school hunters you want to hunt the full moon. Then according to others, you follow the moon and not focus on hunting during the full moon as deer are moving and not bedded down. Then again according to more others (different set of "others) you hunt the time periods between the new moon and full moon.
So here lies the question, does this even make a difference? According to a study completed just this past year by Auburn University, Louisiana State University, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and Norfolk Southern Railway study that was published on www.moonguide.com (The Deer hunters guide to the moon) which if you want you can download the complete report from their website previously mentioned. Apparently, all this moon "mumbo jumbo" (yes that's a technical term) does play into account, though probably not in the manner in which was common taught or atleast taught to me.
Basically what the overall findings come back with are that, during the moon rise and moon set phases with starting about 2 hours prior to and 1.5 hours to after moon RISE, then 2 hours prior to 1 hour after moon SET, moon underfoot and moon overhead deer were most active. Ok, so what does that mean, basically it means what everyone already knows. You head out into your stand about 2.5 hours in the afternoon before the moon comes up (moon RISE). Then, you head out into the woods about 1.5 hours before sunrise and ensure your in your stand about a hour before the sun comes up, this is the moon SET portion depending on the day cycle of the moon and where it sits between a New Moon and Full Moon time periods (more on that in a min). So guess what everyone already does this or should be doing this, if you're not, then back to hunting 101 for you.
Now, paying attention to the moon cycles, with referencing the webiste www.solunarforecast.com, you can then know the moon cycles and times of when the New Moon to the Full Moon cycle happnes. Then, accourding to the previously referenced study, it is mentioned that deer seem to be most active during the peak times of each phase of the mooon during the sunset periods. Basically meaning that for each given phase of the moon, the peak period of that time during sunset is when deer were most likely to be active.
So at the end of the day, what does all this mean. What it means is that, when you take your trail cameras and you have lots of pictures of your bucks that you are hoping to harvest. What should be done along with time patterning is date and moon patterning. You should be noting the date and time, then heading back to what the moon cycle was during that period when you got the most pictures of your trophy. Then, during the hunting season, you should be matching up the same times with the same moon phase for when the deer show up. At this point, this should be giving you the days and times during the week or week-end that you should be in that stand with your best chance to hit that trophy.