Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween Bucks and How to Kill them


        If you are a believer in the moon phase and how it affects deer movement, like me, you should be chomping at the bit. Considering what we already know about the early part of the rut and combining it with the basic theory of full moon deer movement, we could be in store for a wild and wicked Halloween weekend.
Author with a Buck harvested at 11am a couple days
after Halloween. Stand was located in a transition area
used by does. The Buck was rattled in to 20 yards.
        I find that mid-day hunting during a full moon phase can be a great time to capitalize before the intense chasing starts. Typically the full moon, which falls on October 27th this year (2015), will cause bucks to move heavily at night. Although this tends to damper the intense evening and morning hunts, it offers phenomenal mid-day hunting. A buck will rarely lie down all day during the rut. He’s got breeding on the mind and he is going to move at one time or another, even if just a short distance.
       During the early part of the rut bucks are notorious for roaming the woods and looking for does. They often make scrapes and do most of their rubbing during this time. Although setting over a scrape is not my go to plan for this time of the year, it can be effective.
This Halloween I will be setting all day in a transition area used by does. This area will include heavy cover on the edge of a food source. In my case, hunting public land in northern Michigan, I will be no more than 300 yards from acorns. This area would also be a travel route used by does to get from feed to bed. Spots like this are often littered with scrapes and rubs due to bucks roaming the thick cover in hopes of cutting the track of a hot doe.
      With the wind in my face and travel routes used by does, in seeing distance, I can expect bucks to be cruising the area. This type of area is frequented by bucks that are keeping tabs on the does. The does will not be ready to breed for at least a week or two but this will not stop bucks from roaming the area, stopping only to make a scrape or rub a tree.  I already have one of these spots in mind and you had better find one as well.

     Bucks will also be very curious of other bucks in the area. It’s likely of them to be sizing up the competition in the area this time of year. It would be wise to pack some tarsal gland scent and a grunt call. A cruising buck will stop for little but a quick whiff of what he believes to be another buck in his territory could turn his wheels and have him marching towards your post.
     Grunt calls are great for getting the attention of a buck. Like I previously stated, bucks are curious of their potential competition. Being vocal could get bucks off their path and in front of your sights. This includes rattling. Although not as aggressive as a buck fending off competition while tending a hot doe, a semi intense sparring sequence could gain the attention of bucks nearby. It’s like when a fight would break out in school. If you could hear the yelling and chanting, it was almost impossible not to go over and investigate.
     With this information in mind, get looking at some topo and satellite photos. Find a spot where you suspect bucks will be trying to intercept does. Pinch points leading to a food source are great areas to start. If you’ve already came across some rub lines, it wouldn’t hurt to be within shooting distance of them as it’s a clear indication of a bucks travel route. The conditions will be ideal for an all-day sit. Although you may not actually see deer all day, you can be confidant that they could show up at any time. Best of luck and happy Halloween!