Hunting the Rut

When a cold front, the full moon, and late October all line up, you can bet the deer hunting action is going to be hot. Just a couple of weeks ago, this all aligned while we were hunting with Chris Parrish in Missouri. Deer were on their feet and we were in the woods deer hunting the rut.

In bowhunting, so many stars have to align in order for one to harvest a mature buck especially while hunting the rut. It not only takes good management practices and correct stand locations, but also a little bit of luck. Chris has managed this farm for mature whitetails and knows all of their travel corridors, but the luck was not on our side this week. Our first shot opportunity came on a 4-year-old buck with a bad antler likely caused by pedicle damage. The deer slipped in and out at 30 yards without presenting a clear shot opportunity. Just a few days later, we were able to take a doe off the property during mid afternoon. After not seeing anything for a couple of hours after the doe was taken, we decided to climb down and start dragging her out before dark. Just after Chuck stepped foot on the ground, a mature buck materialized and began working a scrape. With Casey halfway down the tree, Chuck snort wheezed and the buck headed in. Just as he stepped into a shooting lane, he looked directly toward Chuck. Instead of bolting, the buck stomped and turned broadside. Experience has taught us that deer alerted to a hunter’s presence will jump the string. Chuck compensated for this by aiming at the base of the deer’s chest, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The deer dropped nearly two feet and turned causing the arrow to hit high and forward.

This is a scenario many, if not all, bowhunters have faced. We practice all year at distances within our comfort level. We know how the deer are going to react in certain situations, but all the practice in the world does not compensate for the fact that deer are wild animals. As hunters, there are many aspects of the hunt that we can control. How much a deer will drop upon release of the arrow is not one of them.

Fortunately, the buck was not mortally wounded and was seen the next day chasing does. Just three weeks later, Chris was able to harvest the deer just 85 yards from the location Chuck shot the buck.