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The rut is on!

#1 User is offline   Huntwriter Icon

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 11:42 AM

Over the past two weeks I've seen mule deer bucks starting to follow the does. Whitetail deer bucks rubbing trees and making scrapes. Here in Merritt the temperatures have dropped well below zero and that in turn got the does fired up.

The rut is on! Get out there and hunt.

Now is you best chance to kill a buck, but if you want the really big ones you still have to climb high for mule deer and go into the thick stuff for whitetail bucks.

Share here what your observations have been and if you got a buck show it off here. Good luck to you all.
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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:49 AM

They definitely are ruttin'..... :blink:

Will post a story soon once I get caught up and cleaned up!!!

This has been one of the best seasons for me, I actually "finished" it this past weekend, although I do have to go up to Port Mcneil on Friday and will have some free time..... :unsure: :lol:


Mike
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Posted 09 November 2011 - 12:35 PM

View PostHuntwriter, on 06 November 2011 - 11:42 AM, said:

Over the past two weeks I've seen mule deer bucks starting to follow the does. Whitetail deer bucks rubbing trees and making scrapes. Here in Merritt the temperatures have dropped well below zero and that in turn got the does fired up.

The rut is on! Get out there and hunt.

Now is you best chance to kill a buck, but if you want the really big ones you still have to climb high for mule deer and go into the thick stuff for whitetail bucks.

Share here what your observations have been and if you got a buck show it off here. Good luck to you all.

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 12:45 PM

Hey Othmar-
Jason here. Thanks for sending me to the forum. I am baffled by the lack of acivity here in Balfour. I have permission to hunt field near me, and earlier this year I saw lots of does out in the feild even a couple buck sparring as I walked out from an evening hunt. I have been waiting for the pre-rut to start so I could try to catch big boy freshning an early scrape. But I have been looking every 3-4 days since Oct. 30th for scrapes to open up. Just in case you're wondering, I've tried really hard to control my scent - shower in scent free soap each time I head out, wear bagged clothes, outer layer bathed in carbon wash, and rubber boots sprayed down each time with scent killer - so I don't think I am busting them out of there. I have seen rubs showing up, but no scrapes. And when I asked Ken at P&R Archery in Winlaw, he said he hadn't seen the scrapes really open yet either. I am just curious what could be causing this? My main concern is that I think I've found some primary scrapes on travel routes between fields, but no scrapes yet.

WEather has been warmer here than Meritt. averaging around 3-4 during the day and around or just below 0 at night.
Anyt thoughts on why no scrapes?
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Posted 10 November 2011 - 05:01 PM

Hi Jason and welcome to the BC Outdoors Forum.

Something about your post got me thinking. You've permission to hunt a field where you saw deer "earlier in the year". Now the deer a gone.

What field is it? A hayfield or a crop field? Is the field harvested? If it is a hayfield is the there still green on it or is it barren?

The reason I ask is because food is the catalyst of all deer movement and if the food sources changes or a particular food is no longer available the deer will change their travel pattern.

To make any sense of deer travel patterns your first priority is to keep tabs on the available food.

You didn't find any scrapes. Did you look on the right places? The reason I ask is because bucks do not make scrapes in any old place. Scrapes are meant to be highly visible to other deer. To assure visibility bucks scape in transition areas. What is a transition area? Transition areas are where two or more structures meet; a field bordering onto timber, a swamp merging with a field, the edge of a brushy thicket inside the timber and so on. These are natural deer travel corridors.

Find where the does have gone - by finding their current food source - and you will find the bucks. This time of year the bucks are near the does. Check inside the cover for rubs on trees, they are a much better indicator for buck activity than scrapes.

Let me know if this helps and what you found out in your hunting area.
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Posted 10 November 2011 - 08:54 PM

Thanks for your reply Othmar.
The field is a hayfield. It looks like it was cut in early sept. There are some new shoots, but a little sparse. I saw a doe eating on it last week in one of the green spots. The neighbor next door has a over grown field that is tall brown grass and brown ferns, but he has a horse and a last week I saw 3 deer eating near the horse coral. I think there must have been some left over feed. There is however a large green field on the north east corner of the field that could be drawing a lot of the does, the only thing is that field gets a lot of pressure. When I asked to hunt that big field the owner said I was welcome to it, but 12 other guys also usually hunted it.

As far as scrapes go, I'm pretty sure it was the right place, but the lack of scrapes has cause me to question myself. I have two spots, one is a over grown cart path, that runs parallel to the field completely enclosed, the other is a two track road that exits the far end of the field into the bush. About 30-40 yrds in, It's completely enclosed with lots of game trails intersecting, also with lots of rubs, many that look recent. It seems like the main travel route between "my" field and the adjacent fields I mentioned above. I thought maybe I wasn't looking in the right place, so on some areas where I can't hunt, but I know there are deer, I checked known bedding areas near known bedding areas with well worn trails and rubs and still haven't seen rubs. I also called the local bow shop and he confirmed that he hasn't seen any scrapes either. He said it was a really weird year for deer. I don't know what he meant by that.
I've been waiting for scrapes to open up, but I just going to hunt over those places tomorrow and see what happens.
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Posted 12 November 2011 - 11:03 AM

Sorry to let you sit and wait for a reply here. went hunting yesterday and cam home with the mother of all migraines, haven't had it that bad for over two months.

"The neighbor next door has a over grown field" that peaked my interest. With "overgrown" I understand tall grass. These overgrown fields are preferred hideout places for deer, especially when they are exposed to hunting pressure. Check it out for trails leading in and out of it. But do not enter the field itself because, if there are deer in there they will not take kindly to your intrusion and leave for good.

As long as there are some green on the hayfield deer will come to eat, especially now when other food sources are depleted. Deer love hanging around horse and cattle pastures to eat "leftovers".

It seems the thing you need to do is to check out where the deer are coming from when they enter the field or go to the horse pasture. Look for well used trails leading out of the timber into the field.

I would not worry to much about scrapes they are just a visible sign of buck activity but have really no value on hunting bucks. Rubs and rub, especially rub lines, are a different story. To many hunters get caught up in scrapes and get all exited about it. There are three different types of scrapes. Buck scrapes, doe escapes and community scrapes. All look the same. The size of a scrape is no indicator of the size of the deer, small bucks can make large scrapes and big bucks can make small scrapes.

Add to that the fact that a buck can make as many as 40 scrapes in his territory but only re-visits a few of them at unpredictable times and you understand why scrapes should to not play any role in planning a hunting strategy.

Hope this helps. If you can make a drawing of the land layout or have a aerial picture I could provide you with more accurate recommendations.
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Posted 14 November 2011 - 09:26 PM

HI Othmar-
Saw on the news tonight you guys are getting quite a storm. Thanks for your reply, and no need to apologize, it's the rut, early mornings and busy night trying to keep up with the rest of life. Hopefully those migrains haven't kept you out of the woods.

The overgrown field next door (marker B) is tall grass and some small trees, and dead ferns, as well as an abandoned farm on the north side of the field...great buck hideout. This morning I took your advice stopped worrying about scrapes - still haven't seen many - and hunted an abandoned cart path heading straight out the south of the field - point A on the map. Trying to catch one of the big boys traveling between doe clans just inside the trees. I did see a young buck about 70yds to the north of me in the field this morning about 6am, walking with his nose in the air. I hung an estrous scent wick that he keyed in on. He stopped and I gave a couple estrous bleat can calls to try and draw him in (would buck grunts have been better?) but my neighbor (who also hunts) drove by on his way to work and stopped to take a look, needles to say the buck didn't hang around. Now my spot has numerous runways, most with rubs lines near my hunitng spot (Point A) some between me and field, and some to the south of my position. I walked in well to the south, and drug the estrous wick down the road, hopefully bringing in anything north that would cross the road to the south of me. What do you think of that strategy? Any other ideas?
I've attached a photo of my spot. When you have a minute, curious to hear what how you would approach it.

I also wanted to say I really appreciate all your help. This is just my second year into bowhunting and your advice has not only help my hunting, but encourage me knowing that that there are guys out there willing to take time to help the new guys. Thanks a lot. I am grateful.

Hope things go well for you in the next few days.
JasonAttached File  hunt area.JPG (66.24K)
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Posted 15 November 2011 - 05:33 PM

View PostAvid learner, on 14 November 2011 - 09:26 PM, said:

HI Othmar-
Saw on the news tonight you guys are getting quite a storm. Thanks for your reply, and no need to apologize, it's the rut, early mornings and busy night trying to keep up with the rest of life. Hopefully those migrains haven't kept you out of the woods.


Yes we have had a big snow storm here. The Coquihalla was closed for the night. Here in Merritt the sun was out all the time, around us all black in black like doomsday. :)

Before I get started let me say, that from what I can see on the little image, you may be sitting on a deer hot spot. If you can provide me with a larger copy I can mark structures out for you to check out. Finding deer travel patterns is all about terrain and structure. Send it to me as an email attachment to OthmarV[at]sahw.ca

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The overgrown field next door (marker B) is tall grass and some small trees, and dead ferns, as well as an abandoned farm on the north side of the field...great buck hideout.


That made me almost spit my coffee out in the excitement. What you describe here is an excellent whitetail deer hideout. Abandoned farms often have fruit trees and deer love them. The tall grass, fern and the trees provide them with cover. Most hunters overlook these places because they think that such places are to small to hold deer. If these hunters only would know. I've killed my biggest buck in patch of grass under cedar tree that was not much bigger than car hood. My second biggest buck I killed in a patch of nasty brambles growing around and up an old cottonwood tree.

Don't hunt that field and farm. Places like that are very tricky to hunt, even for experienced hunters. One small mistake and the deer are gone for good. Check from a distance with a binoculars for trails leading in and out of that area. What makes that place even better, in my opinion is that it close to the heavily hunted area and very likely serves deer as a refuge. Be VERY, very careful with that field.

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This morning I took your advice stopped worrying about scrapes - still haven't seen many - and hunted an abandoned cart path heading straight out the south of the field - point A on the map. Trying to catch one of the big boys traveling between doe clans just inside the trees.


Unfortunately to many hunters get caught up in deer sign like scrapes and rubs. A scrape or rub is just one small piece in a large puzzle, by themselves they can not tell you where to hang a stand or set up a blind. Yet every year hunter start drooling when they see a scrape or rub.I once gave a seminar on that topic and told the hunters; "Don't hunt sign. Hunt the terrain."

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I did see a young buck about 70yds to the north of me in the field this morning about 6am, walking with his nose in the air.

It's common for younger bucks to be out in the field with the nose in the air. It's also common to see younger bucks chasing does around, forgive them they are only teenagers and that don't know any better. Eventually the does will get tired of it and run the bucks off. The bigger bucks are wiser. They stay in the cover until nightfall and if you're after a big boy then that is where your stand should be too, in the cover. Look for less visible trails running along the fields in the cover or along connecting strips of timber, overgrown fences and such. These are the places you will see the big boys.

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I hung an estrous scent wick that he keyed in on. He stopped and I gave a couple estrous bleat can calls to try and draw him in (would buck grunts have been better?) but my neighbor (who also hunts) drove by on his way to work and stopped to take a look, needles to say the buck didn't hang around.


As I pointed out above, young bucks respond to almost everything that remotely sounds or smells like a doe. A bit like I am in my teenage years. :D As we get older we learn to be patient and wait for the right moment, so do older bucks.

Buck grunts can work very well provided they are not overused and are not to aggressive, like a deep guttural challenging grunt or a snort-and-wheeze. Calls like that will flat out scare every deer within earshot and should only be used if the hunter knows that there is a dominant monster buck in the area.

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Now my spot has numerous runways, most with rubs lines near my hunitng spot (Point A) some between me and field, and some to the south of my position. I walked in well to the south, and drug the estrous wick down the road, hopefully bringing in anything north that would cross the road to the south of me. What do you think of that strategy? Any other ideas?
I've attached a photo of my spot. When you have a minute, curious to hear what how you would approach it.


Have you been to one of my rut hunting seminars? :D Your strategy is perfect. You found a buck hot spot. Since you did not mention where exactly you set up let me add a few explanations.

Set your stand up where most trails come together. Alternatively set up where you have found the most buck sign. Just make sure it is the cover, a little further in from the field edge. In addition you also can drag the scent rag in a big figure 8 crossing as many trails as possible. The narrowest point of the figure 8 would be exactly by your stand. Make sure that you saturate the rag really good each time you come close to your stand. Deer have very fine noses. They can smell on scent molecule in 100,000. Bucks follow a scent trail in the direction where the scent gets stronger and that direction should be toward your stand.

In the ideal situation I would look around near all that buck sign for a staging area and set up right in there. I say "ideal" because now is not a good time to go walking around and letting all the deer know that you're invading their home. However, should you see no bucks near your stand or see them moving to far away, don't be afraid to move the stand closer to where they are moving. If you have to move the stand do so during mid-day and do it as quickly as possible and as quietly as possible.

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I also wanted to say I really appreciate all your help. This is just my second year into bowhunting and your advice has not only help my hunting, but encourage me knowing that that there are guys out there willing to take time to help the new guys. Thanks a lot. I am grateful.


I am flattered. I see it as my job to help others become better hunters. Helping others is the only reason why I became an outdoor writer and seminar speaker. I've learned from the best and it is only fair to give some of the time they've invested in me back to other hunters.

My only wish is that you stay here and help us to make this place grow. We want this to be a very different place from all the other forums, a place where hunters can come and learn, exchange experiences and stories. Come back anytime and ask whatever questions you have about deer hunting. Good luck and get that buck, he has your name tag on it.
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