A hot doe can actually make it tough to fill a tag during the rut. Even the odds with these 5 aggressive moves
The rut is in full swing, and there’s a hot doe dragging a big buck behind her everywhere she goes. That’s the good news. The bad? She’s nowhere near your treestand.
This is what we call the lock-down phase; it’s that period of the rut when a doe is receptive and a buck isn’t likely to leave her. It can be a tough time to hunt. You’re in either the thick of the action, or none of it. But if you recognize how bucks are likely to behave during this phase, you still have a chance. Try one of these five plays.
1. Hunt Security Cover
Generally, mature bucks will push estrous does where they want them to go. Or older, more experienced does will run to areas that are away from other deer. Regardless, the breeding pair will usually end up in a small, isolated pocket of thick cover.
Time to Use: Focus on such cover during the lockdown phase. It’s a preemptive approach, as you’re trying to predict where an estrous doe and rutting buck will go before they get there. But compared to watching an open food plot or hardwood ridge, it’s a good strategy.
2. Stage a Ruse
Did you get lucky enough to see a buck push a doe into a thicket? She might not be receptive just yet. If that’s the case, you might be able to convince that buck that a challenger is nearby with grunts and snort-wheezing, or that a hotter doe is in the area. Try estrous doe bleats, followed by a few tending buck grunts. If that doesn’t work, go to a snort wheeze, followed by a rattling sequence.
Time to Use: Use this tactic from the stand or ground blind. It’s the best option. But if it doesn’t work, move to option No. 3 or 4.
3. Try a Stalk
Are you stealthy as a ninja? If so, analyze the terrain and see if you can slip within range. The buck will have most of his attention focused on the doe. Keep an eye on both of them, but especially on her. She’ll probably be alert.
Time to Use: Try this option only after calling doesn’t work. It’s usually easier to bring them to you than to go to them.
4. Crawl Behind a Buck Decoy
This is an easier way to stalk, if you have the decoy (and firearms seasons aren’t open). The play could even draw the buck to you once you get the decoy moving. However, crawling with a bow and a 3D decoy isn’t easy. So try using Montana Decoy’s two-dimensional Freshman model. It’s lightweight and perfect for this scenario.
Time to Use: Deploy this method when the terrain won’t allow you to make a stalk into range unseen.
5. Just Shoot Him Already
If gun season is open and you’re sitting in a stand with a bow … well, it’s time to abandon your principles, run home and get that boomstick. Do it as fast as possible, while driving the speed limit. If they were bedded when you left, there’s a decent chance the buck and doe will still be there when you get back.
Of course, if you already had the gun with you, you’re probably field-dressing that buck by now.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.