BY Will Brantley October 30, 2020
What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday, I slipped down a creek drainage and onto a hardwood ridge with a climbing stand on my back. I’d done a midday speed scout only a couple hours before, and had found a place torn up with rubs and scrapes.
As I was placing the stand onto a good, straight pignut tree, I noted to myself that the clicking and scraping of the platform and cables sounded a lot like two bucks sparring. I’ve called up young bucks with the sounds of a climber a few times before, but had never gotten a show like the one that unfolded Sunday.
Just as I about to step into the stand for my ascent, I saw the flash of a deer moving through the timber, maybe 70 yards away. A check through my binoculars showed stained tarsals and a big frame — and that’s all I needed to drop the binocs and clip on my release. He closed the distance to 50 and stopped to thrash a sapling. A few grunts steered him right to me, and I ended up filling my Kentucky buck tag that afternoon with a good 8-pointer, without ever leaving the ground.
I had buddies on stand that same rainy, chilly evening, and they also reported that things seemed to have popped loose Sunday. The rut’s not here yet — but the best days of the pre-rut are right around the corner. Now is the time to call up a buck, especially if you can get tight to his bedroom.
Things are much the same just across the state line, in northern Tennessee. I hunted this morning and saw a bunch of deer in general, including a few little guys that were up cruising, working licking branches, and sparring. I saw a couple of groups of does and fawns still together, too, a sure sign that there’s not much breeding taking place just yet.
Over in Virginia, Mike Hanback gave a similar report. “Scrapes are on fire,” he says. “Lots of bucks seeking and trailing does with their grunt on! Expect good midmorning movement this week, with the full moon.”
Roger Culpepper is equally excited about the prospects in Georgia for the upcoming week — even though he was en route to Maryland when I talked to him. “I almost hate to leave, because next week is going to be the week,” he said. “It’s been hot up until now, but it’s starting to cool down. They’re hitting scrapes, and with this last round of weather, we had a bunch of acorns fall. We’ve got a good crop down here this year, too. Overall, movement is pretty typical right now. The little bucks are really getting after it.”
For bowhunters, the next week is magic. Little bucks are on their feet right now, and the mature bucks are bound to come out of hiding on any given morning. You just have to be there when they decide to move.
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Will Brantley is an outdoor writer and whitetail outfitter from western Kentucky. He spends much of his fall bouncing back and forth across the border between Kentucky and Tennessee.