Late November...Something to be Thankful for...
Well here we are… mid-November. Like many of you I have been chasing the whitetails pretty hard over the last few weeks trying to capitalize on the splendor of the rut. I have had several unbelievable days along with some extremely slow days. The one thing I have yet to do is pull back my bow and turn an arrow loose. I have had some great encounters and passed opportunities at some really nice bucks but have yet to close the gap on one that I want to put my tag on. It is really easy to get discouraged during this time of year. Watching hero photos pop up all over the internet and your cell phone, you feel as though your time is running out and your chances for a great buck are diminishing. The lockdown phase which we are currently in only furthers your frustration. However, there is reason to hold onto hope. The post rut is quickly approaching and it brings with it one of the best times of the year to knock down a giant whitetail buck.
As we enter late November a large percentage of the does in the whitetail herd have already completed their estrous cycle here in the Midwest. Although the majority have already cycled there will still be some does entering their estrous cycle for the first time. There will also be some does that came in early and were not successfully bred that will be cycling for a second time near the end of the month. With a smaller amount of does being receptive during this time competition will once again increase. This leads to an increased amount of response to calling and some very active mature bucks.
I personally feel that the upper age class bucks in your area are more visible in the post rut time frame than they are during the peak of the rut. From Halloween through mid-November the most dominant bucks in your area will be spending most of their time tending does in heat. This leaves the less dominant bucks to run all over creation fighting, chasing, getting hit by cars, and harvested by hunters. Are many of these animals trophy class? Sure! There are many bucks in the 3 ½ and 4 ½ year old range that grow exceptional antlers and make great trophies. This age class of whitetail is what makes the rut so special because they make it visible. Most of the actual breeding occurs behind closed doors; with the most dominant mature bucks holding receptive does to very close quarters, rarely venturing out in the open.
As the majority of the does are bred and return to their normal patterns it leaves these dominant bucks feeling lonely and frustrated. Their only option is to get out and stretch their legs in an effort to find those remaining does in estrous. Here is where preparation and opportunity might collide and put you in front of the camera for that hero photo. You should hunt harder during this time frame than you have all season. All day hunting is extremely productive this time of year and you should be in a tree as much as possible. The days surrounding Thanksgiving just might be some of the top days of the season to wrap your tag around some giant antlers. So I hope everyone enjoys plenty of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce this coming holiday. I will eat as much of it as I can fit in my pockets while I try to find success in the whitetail woods. With any luck I will have one more reason to be thankful this year! Take care and good luck.
Corey J. Wilkinson