14

THE RUT SUCKED I SAT IN A STAND ALL DAY AND DIDN'T SEE A DEER

Outdoor Life - - NO EXCUSES -

One mid­morn­ing in Ten­nessee a few Novem­bers ago, my buddy and I jumped a gi­ant buck that was bed­ded with a doe in a drainage ditch be­low the pond in the landowner’s front yard. She ran 70 yards and stopped to look at us. He did the same, and would’ve been easy pick­ings had ei­ther of us been hold­ing a gun. In­stead, we were in my truck, on our way to pick up a (much smaller) buck that I’d killed that morn­ing with a bow. But the vis­ual mem­ory of that mon­ster stuck with me. Some hun­ters seem to think bucks dis­ap­pear to a myth­i­cal place after they lock down with does when, fre­quently, they’re just hid­ing in the most in­con­spic­u­ous patches of cover they can find near their usual food sources and bed­ding ar­eas. If you’re sit­ting in a stand and see­ing deer, my ad­vice dur­ing the rut is al­ways to stay put and be pa­tient. But if you’re hold­ing a gun and tired of watch­ing only squir-

rels, a sin­gle-man drive isn’t a bad plan. I like slip­ping around those lit­tle thick­ets—fencerows, pond dams, aban­doned home­steads— on breezy, driz­zly days, when I can keep silent and work the wind. The deer might see you first—but if you’re do­ing it right, you’ll be close, and there will be some con­fu­sion. Of­ten, the does you jump will run a ways and stop—and the bucks they’re drag­ging be­hind usu­ally won’t leave them. You just might have time for a quick shot. —W.B.

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