PICKUP BREEDING

Field and Stream - - COVER STORY -

THE LOW­DOWN

No, this is not a white­tail at­tempt­ing to mount a truck. It is, how­ever, one of the best times to smash a ma­ture buck. While peak breeding is past, there are a hand­ful of does still to be bred, and af­ter weeks of run­ning, fight­ing, chas­ing, and breeding, it’s the older, big­ger bucks in par­tic­u­lar that have the stamina to keep look­ing for those last breeding op­por­tu­ni­ties.

EX­PERT TIPS 32. WORK THE WIND

“I like to set up along a travel cor­ri­dor so that the wind is al­most per­fect for the buck and al­most wrong for me. Some­times that ex­ists where there’s some ob­sta­cle that forces a buck to travel with­out the wind in his face for a short dis­tance. Other times a buck may travel with the wind quar­ter­ing into his face, rather than full into his face. He thinks he’s O.K., but there’s just enough an­gle for you to take ad­van­tage.” —B.W.

33. MAKE A MID­DAY RUN

“When older bucks are seek­ing out those last does, the ac­tion takes place near the best doe feed­ing ar­eas. I leave these spots alone in the morn­ing and check cam­eras there at mid­day to see where the most does are feed­ing. Then I hunt the hottest spots in the af­ter­noon. I al­ways see bucks that I’ve never seen be­fore—I think they’re ma­ture bucks from other ar­eas—and it’s an ex­cel­lent time to shoot a gi­ant.”

—Chris Par­rish, pro staffer, knigh­tand­hale.com

34. GO WITH A DOE

“At this point in the sea­son, lots of bucks are tired of fight­ing. So I switch to a lone-doe de­coy setup. I fo­cus on ag fields and food plots in the af­ter­noon and

use lots of es­trous scent and a can call.”

—Tim Her­ald, hunt­ing con­sul­tant and TV host, world wide­tro­phy ad­ven­tures.com

35. BACK OFF

“We kill ma­ture bucks dur­ing this phase ev­ery year with a sim­ple tac­tic: set­ting up 100 to 200 yards off a prime food source that does are hit­ting hard. Does bomb into the field to feed, but bucks linger in that safe zone, wait­ing for the does to come back to them. While they wait, they make plenty of rubs and scrapes. Set up on that sign, and you’ll have en­coun­ters with bucks in good shoot­ing light, as op­posed to hunt­ing right on the food.” —T.C.

36. RAT­TLE LATE

“I like to head to field edges or other spots where I can see a good ways, and I keep my rat­tling antlers close. I feel that if I see a good buck, I can call him in. He’ll be fran­tic to find a doe, so the rat­tling will get his at­ten­tion, and if he doesn’t charge in to that, I go straight to grunts and bleats. But rat­tling now kills some of the best bucks in the coun­try.” —J.G.

37. GO FULL OUT

“I call this the ‘des­per­ately seek­ing’ phase, and in my opin­ion it is the sin­gle best time of the year to kill a buck that is 51⁄2 years old or older. They’ve been so lazy all year long, they’re the only ones with en­ergy left for does. My fa­vorite time to hunt is mid­day dur­ing a full moon. A big, seek­ing buck is al­ready apt to move at mid­day, and move­ment is al­ways bet­ter when you’ve got a full moon.” —M.D.

38. TAKE A TARSAL

Many hun­ters know the trick of cut­ting the tarsal or “hock” gland off a buck or doe and us­ing it as a scent at­trac­tant. What you may not know is that the pickup breeding phase is an es­pe­cially good time to put this trick to work. At this point in the rut, af­ter weeks of rub uri­na­tion (done by both bucks and does), tarsals pos­i­tively reek. Plus, in­creas­ingly wary bucks are more likely to fall for the most realistic scent you can get your hands on. —S.B.

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