Ever watched a great bird dog working cover to find a hunkered-down pheasant or quail? That’s your whitetail buck right now, only he’s looking for does. With testosterone levels surging, bucks start patrolling like crazy, checking food sources, doe bedding sites, and transition areas for that first bit of action.
EXPERT TIPS 9. READ THE BODY
“The key to calling in bucks is reading body language. When bucks are seeking, I look for an animal that’s traveling with intent and seemingly unaware of his surroundings. Any slow-moving buck is no good; I leave him alone. But if he’s moving right along, I know he’s looking for something to chase or harass. Bonus points for any buck with his ears laid back and hair erect. He’s telling me he’s feeling aggressive, and he’ll come to the first call he hears.”
—Mark Drury, TV host, drury outdoors.com
10. GET A GOOD VIEW
“For much of the year, bucks stick to thick cover, but that changes now. They really start using their eyes to find other deer, and they seek out open areas to do so. I copy them by choosing stands in areas where I can see well, especially on an afternoon hunt.”
—Dan Perez, land manager and TV host, whitetail properties.com
11. GO IT A LONE
“Any time I hunt open or broken cover, I look for a large lone tree or brushpile. Bucks crossing between patches of cover will go to that lone tree like a magnet, pausing to assess their surroundings before moving on. These spots are especially deadly when bucks are covering lots of ground to find does.”
—Mark Clifford, Kentucky outfitter, premieroutfitters. com
12. SPY ON THE GIRLS
“Lots of guys delete doe pictures from their trail cameras, but right now the does tell you where the bucks will be. I keep close tabs on my cameras and scan cards for the spots with the best doe activity—and then I immediately put my hunters in those spots.” —T.C.
13. TALK LIKE A LADY
“Up until this phase in the rut, I stick mainly to grunting and rattling for pulling a buck into range. But now’s the time to switch to doe bleats. By this point a buck might be tired of fighting or just had his butt kicked. But he is most definitely in the mood for a doe.”
—Joe Gizdic, land manager and Illinois guide, whitetail properties.com
14. KILL A FROST GIANT
“I love to hunt the first hard frost of the year, which often occurs during the seeking phase. The earlymorning cold puts
deer off food sources before daylight, and they go back in the timber to bed. When the sun warms things up—usually eight or nine o’clock—they move back out to feed for a while. So I get in a stand before first light and catch bucks moving out to feed at midmorning, then back to bed again in late morning. Bucks are both feeding and harassing does the whole time. The action can be incredible.” —M.D.
A mature Wisconsin buck trolls for does after dawn.