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