Tips on get­ting smart late-sea­son roost­ers to take wing


Outdoor Life - - NEWS - BY TONY HANSEN

Deer hunt­ing is mostly a pas­sive pur­suit. We po­si­tion our­selves in a lo­ca­tion where scout­ing and in­tu­ition tell us deer will pass. And we wait. Come Novem­ber, how­ever, ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion can pay off. Bucks are much more ag­gres­sive now that the rut is in full swing. Your tac­tics should match. Call­ing and rat­tling can be very ef­fec­tive. How do you know when to use them? Read on.

SCE­NARIO 1 EYES ON THE PRIZE It’s mid­morn­ing and the tall-tined buck you have mul­ti­ple trail cam images of is in sight. He’s just stepped out of the tim­ber 250 yards away and is work­ing his way along the edge of a cut corn­field, mov­ing with a steady, de­lib­er­ate pace, his nose to the ground. • What It Means: That buck is likely on the prowl for a hot doe.

• Plan of Ac­tion: Grab your rat­tling antlers. He’s still a bit too far for a grunt tube. Hit the antlers to­gether with medium in­ten­sity. Keep the se­quence short—just a cou­ple of cracks— and watch the buck’s re­ac­tion. If he hears it, he’ll likely stop and stare in your di­rec­tion. Do noth­ing. Wait for the buck to make his move. If he turns and starts in your di­rec­tion, grab your bow and get ready.

If the buck con­tin­ues on his orig­i­nal path, hit the antlers to­gether again and re­peat the process, louder each time.

SCE­NARIO 2 STIR THINGS UP The sun cleared the hori­zon an hour ago. It’s cold and clear, but you haven’t seen a buck yet.

• What It Means: Bucks are likely on their feet, as the con­di­tions are just right to get them mov­ing to feed and breed. You just haven’t seen one yet. • Plan of Ac­tion: Ini­ti­ate a call­ing se­quence us­ing a grunt tube. Start with a few soft grunts, and mix in some doe bleats us­ing a can-style call. Wait five min­utes and re­peat the grunts, but in­crease the volume and in­ten­sity. When you’re call­ing blind like this, it’s im­per­a­tive that you stay alert and don’t start off call­ing too loudly. There might be a buck at close range that you just haven’t spot­ted.

SCE­NARIO 3 ALL LOCKED UP You’ve de­voted a full day to the woods. It’s nearly lunchtime, and your pa­tience has just been re­warded. A tar­get buck is push­ing a doe around on a nearby ridge.

• What It Means: It’s ob­vi­ous by the doe’s re­luc­tance to leave the buck that she’s in heat.

• Plan of Ac­tion: Call­ing a buck away from a hot doe isn’t im­pos­si­ble, but it’s sure not easy. Em­ploy your grunt tube and is­sue some ag­gres­sive chal­lenge grunts and roars. The goal is to make that buck think he has a ri­val. But use the call spar­ingly. Often, es­trous does will steer clear of other deer—es­pe­cially bucks—once they’ve found a suitor. Push that doe away, and the buck will leave with her.

Gauge the buck’s re­sponse to your call­ing by read­ing his body lan­guage. If the buck ap­pears to be agi­tated, con­tinue to call from time to time. If the buck seems not to care, put the call away. Your best chance now is to wait and hope that doe pulls him past you.

A pair of bruiser white­tails fight it out in western Mon­tana.

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