This is when the majority of does enter estrus. Most biologists consider this the rut’s peak. Most hunters call it lockdown—and want to pull their hair out. Bucks that teemed in the timber just days ago seem to vanish as they tend does. But they’re not gone.
EXPERT TIPS 25. BUST THEM LIKE BUNNIES
“During lockdown, bucks corral does in small oddball covers. My rule is: If it’s big enough to kick a rabbit from, it’s big enough for a buck to rat-hole a doe. I’ll sneak close to that isolated cover and rattle or call to suck in a buck that’s tending a doe. We’ve killed eight or 10 bucks scoring 170 or better with this technique.” —J.G.
26. CATCH SOME SUN
“Does—even receptive ones—seek thick cover now to avoid being harassed by bucks. Southfacing slopes are perfect, since they feature brushy habitat that’s also warmed by the sun. That combination makes these areas great ambush sites for receptive does and the mature bucks that follow them.” —G.W.
27. MOVE A LITTLE CLOSER
“Breeding pairs are famous for locking down for hours at a time. But sooner or later one of the two deer will want to get up and stretch its legs, and the other one will follow suit. Since they’re not going far for a couple of days, I use that chance to move a stand closer and wait for them to return. It might take a couple of setups, but eventually I’ll be close enough to get a good shot.” —D.P.
28. QUIET YOUR STEPS
“Doe bedding areas are good places to find a buck that has a mate pinned down. To get to stands in these areas, I make places to put my feet along the last 75 yards of my entry path by scraping 12-inch spots down to bare dirt. Then I can slip in without a sound. I’ve
sometimes had a big buck stand up after hours of being bedded close to my stand with his doe.” —B.W. 29. STAY PUT “If you can only handle a couple of all- day sits in a season, save them for lockdown, and set up near a thick doe bedding area. Once a buck is done tending one doe, he’s going to look for the next, no matter what time of day it is. Plus, lockdown aligns with the rifle season in a lot of states, which can get a buck on his feet at midday.” —T.M.
Bucks are tending does now, but you can still score.