Hunting the rut was rough work this year
Hunting the rut — if you have never done it, I can’t explain it. I mean I can try, but until you hunt it and experience one of those days, it’s hard to understand. And I can’t tell you which day will be the one of those days. There are so many variables.
Ranking high on the variable list is how many does are in a location and when they come into estrus. What causes does to move a mile or half mile away for a few days will never be known. Food sources and pressure, we are told, but maybe they just get sick of the scenery and want to frequent another field.
Whatever the case, on one of those days you have at least one doe in estrus fairly close by. What caused her to decide to pick that bedding area verses one on the other side of her range will be hard to explain. But, in the end, food sources, water sources, hunting pressure, and pressure from predators probably had something to do with it.
But forget about the variables for a second. If you know someone who hunted the rut hard this year tip your hat to them. If they harvested a deer I most certainly congratulate them on the
venison. If they harvested that buck of their dreams, shake their hand. Actually, shake any hunter’s hand who hunted the rut hard this year, they earned it.
Conditions were tough. Cold, wind, rain, snow, more wind and really cold weather met them day after day. I saw a lot of you hunting hard this year. I saw people doing the eat-sleep-hunt ordeal for three weeks straight. You were out there hunting hard dealing with a biggest variable of all — the weather.
Chucktober was a little abbreviated this year for some good reasons and I got the shakes for a bit because of it. My dogs weren’t happy with reduced days afield; I’m still getting the stink eye from Sienna.
But I can still tell you that 21 days of eat-sleep-hunt will leave the hunter begging to go back to work if only so they can catch up on sleep.
Waterfowl hunting froze out early this year even for our area. I hunted up to freeze up and even with wind-proof, rainproof, cold-weather gear worn by serious waterfowlers, it was cold. It was cold enough that when I parked the boat for the last time I thought of hunting the rut for bucks but decided to just help Josh hunt meat from a heated blind. I have cold weather gear for archery hunting. That still doesn’t mean it’s not a cold, long sit that tests the will of the hunter each and every time. When the weather gets cold enough that even the squirrels don’t move around, hunting gets tough. There were plenty of those days this year for the heart of the rut. But if that one day comes along in the area you hunt — and you made the right decision for where to sit and where to locate the stand — it becomes the day dreams are made of.
It starts with a flicker of movement or the glint of an antler in the distance. Deer moving west and east and north and south, some does, and, of course, bucks. Maybe that big one shows himself and if luck is on your side walks by in range. And if you can get the bow drawn without him seeing you, maybe luck will land on your arrow and it will fly true.
It takes skill to kill big bucks with archery – skill that develops over many hours in the stand waiting and watching day after day, hunt after hunt. Practice can’t solve that one lone small twig that deflects the arrow.
It can’t stop that wind from swirling at the wrong time. It doesn’t give you eyes in the back for your head for unseen does standing behind you and blowing as you start to draw. The situation must be right for success to be achieved. Let’s raise a glass to those that hunted hard during the rut this year.
The last season looks to be as challenging as the rut, but our freezer is full this year. We have a lot to be thankful for at our house and hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving weekend.
And thank you for remembering “Safe Hunting is No Accident!”
K OLAR THROUGH A