• 61°

East Tennessee Outdoors… The top reason hunters fail to take a deer – The Rut

BY DANNY BLEVINS

STAR CORRESPONDENT

I will never forget the first buck deer I ever killed. I had placed my stand in some rock cliffs, and I had been watching a doe late one evening.

I could have taken her, but I was holding out for a buck because I had never killed a buck before.

I watched as she crossed in front of me with her tail flicked to one side. Every so often she would stop and look back.

Then she turned and came back in front of me and walked within 20 feet of my tree stand.

Suddenly, I saw a glimpse of brown as a buck stepped out from the trees with his nose to the ground. I had scouted this area before the season and had never seen this deer before.

He was a decent five-pointer, and he followed the doe’s trail like he was a blood hound.

Then, just as the doe had done, he turned and circled under my stand. He stopped and stood about twenty feet from me, and I had my sights on him before he could move.

He dropped where he stood.

We have been discussing the reasons hunters fail to take a deer, and we have finally reached the number one reason. Hunters don’t understand or hunt the rut.

The rut has cost more deer their lives than anything in our modern world. Deer lose their caution during the rut, and it makes them change all of their habits that they use for protection during the rest of the year.

First, what is the rut?

The rut is a period of time, usually about the end of October or the first of November, when something in the buck deer tells it to reproduce.

During this time a buck that may only move at night, may be seen during any part of the day as he searches for does that are willing to reproduce.

During this time, the buck will make scrapes. This is when he will scrape the leaves and sticks off an area about three feet wide, and then he will urinate in it.

This tells the doe that he is there looking for “love”.

A doe will come by, smell the scrape and also urinate in it. When the buck comes back to that scrape, he will see that a doe has visited the area, and he will track that doe until he finds her.

Once a buck finds a doe and senses she will be coming into heat, he will follow her. He may follow her for up to 24 hours, waiting for that one-hour period when she is receptive to the buck.

When she is willing to reproduce with the buck, they will mate then go on their separate ways. The buck will then try to find another doe that will soon come into heat.

All of this points to one thing. The bucks will be walking through the woods, backyards, across roads or through fields, looking for does at any time during the day.

You, as a hunter, need to be on your stand all day long and eventually, you will see and kill a buck.

I have seen as many as three bucks follow one doe in the middle of the day, all waiting for her to be receptive to their advances.

This revealed to me that you can throw all of the normal rules of deer hunting out the window. Really all a hunter needs to do during this time is find a good fresh trail and sit down and watch it.

Eventually, you will see a buck.

The rut is my favorite time of year for deer hunting because you never know what you are going to see.

Hunt during this time and your mind will be happy and your freezer will be full of venison. I can almost guarantee it.