Watch for Trailing Bucks During the Whitetail Rut

Lessons of Patience During a Rut Fest.

Nothing gets a whitetail hunter’s blood flowing faster than an all-out rut fest.  Does flying out from every inch of brush like they were shot out of a pinball machine and bucks act as barriers trying to corral them.  Logs snap like tooth picks and any of your frozen muscles moments prior instantly defrost.  Actually, you feel more like liquid as adrenaline surges through veins too tiny to hold such un-godly amounts of potent chemicals.  This is what we hunt for all season.  However, in such moments of hormone induced fervor, we may find our judgement skewed, pulling the trigger at the wrong moment.  I am not talking specifically about shot placement ( although this can be skewed as well). For those of us chasing big bodied and antlered bucks, I am talking about shooting a smaller buck in an adrenaline rush. If true brutes may not immediately be present, we panic. 

Here are two scenarios to remember next time you find yourself in a “rut fest”.

Many times, the true dominate bucks are trailing the party.  I would wager the dominate bucks let  smaller bucks dog a hot doe until she is tired-out.  Once the work is done, he kicks the crap out of the small guy and enjoys the fun stuff. Twice this has happened in front of my eyes, only once did I have the patience to wait.

November 16,2011 was the second day of NewYork’s rifle season.  Dawning grey and windy, none of my tags had been yet punched.  Time was running out since as a student, collegiate finals were approaching.  Mid-morning has been known to produce big bucks. Having already seen a big beamed buck on the ridge above me an hour earlier, I was on full alert. Right at 9am, logs started snapping as three deer bombed off the ridge from where the big buck had disappeared.   Two bucks trailing a doe.  Several shriek whistles stopped the group.  The back buck was a basket six point.  With time a factor added on the surge of adrenaline, I leveled the six pointer no sooner than I had seen him.  40 minutes later I had both arms in his chest cavity dressing him out when a loud snort startled me.  Turning around, I was face to face with a giant buck. He was trailing the party although 40 minutes late.  

Two weeks ago, November 14, 2013 I was sitting in a pinch point between multiple corn fields.  Two day until the start of gun season, I still had not given up on my bow.  8am logs began snapping to my right coming from the corn.  The commotion was so ferocious it reminded me of an elk herd thundering through dark timber.  Before even seeing the deer I knew what was about to happen.  Fumbling to get my release on the loop, time to react was short. Even at the tender age of 21 I am addicted to the chess game of outwitting big bucks and pass more deer than I should.  Does were flying every which way and I reminded myself- “patience Jay, there is a big guy in there somewhere.” The buck hot on a doe was a shooter yet, they blew by stand at a dead sprint.  He was a big buck, certainly one I would have shot.  Despite practically screaming at these deer, there was no chance to stop them.  My spilt second of disappointment was instantaneously forgotten as another log snapped behind me.  Trailing the party was the biggest buck I have ever seen in NewYork. He was not running but jogging.  The buck which we later green scored at 150 P&Y, stopped slightly quartering at 23 yards.  My arrow punched square through his heart.  He expired less than a minute later only 50 yards.

As you are gearing up for your next hunt just remember these two stories.  The big bucks often trail the party.  They are smart but we are smart too.  Use your mind to beat the big boys.  Watch for the trailer.

Jason Reid

Last Updated: December 3rd, 2013

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