Rut Report: November 4

Day No. 4 of a 13-day rut hunt is in the books. Discover what North American Hunter Senior Managing Editor Dave Maas learned during his day in the Wisconsin woods.

As the saying goes, “What a difference a day makes.” I went back to the same open oak forest (public ground) that I hunted and blanked in last night, and this morning (November 3) it was quite good.

Because of the calm conditions (slight southeast winds) and deep, dry noisy leaves on the forest floor, I hiked in well before daylight to give myself the best chance at getting into position without alerting deer traveling back through this area at sunrise. I had what sounded like a buck chasing a doe nearby me in the pitch dark, and the action continued at daybreak.

First, a doe traveled west to east behind me, then a smaller doe traveled east to west on the same ridge. A few minutes later, a 110-class 4x4 appeared in the same ridge chasing another doe, followed by a spiker. As soon as these deer were out of sight, I grabbed my gear and relocated 150 yards to get into better position if other deer used the same ridge.

My plan worked. I hadn’t been sitting in my new spot for long when a big-bodied 5x4 (115-class buck with dark and heavy antlers) was headed my way. Unfortunately, he veered a bit north at the last second, and I stopped him with a bleat call (voice) at 35 yards. He was broadside but had a few saplings covering his chest, so I passed on the shot. He then continued his fast walk northbound, away from me, so I gave him a snort-wheeze call (voice) and stopped him in his tracks. He seemed interested, so I gave him another snort-wheeze. He turned to face me, so I gave him the call again. He began to circle me at 60 yards, so I hit him with another snort-wheeze. That was all he could take, and he charged me! I lifted my crossbow off the tripod (my bow was facing east at the time), and I aimed it at the fast-approaching buck. He finally spotted me at 25 yards and put on the brakes. I aimed for his lower chest through the scope, but because I was holding the bow freehand (even though I was sitting and felt solid) and I don’t like head-on shots at distances beyond point-blank, I passed on the shot.

All of this action happened from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., then I spotted a forkhorn at 9 a.m. I left the woods at 9:30 a.m. to prepare ground blinds for the upcoming firearms hunt, and then departed Wisconsin for my next adventure on my in-law’s land in South Dakota. I’ll be back to bowhunt WI during the next couple weeks only if I’m successful in SD.

Speaking of SD: My wife bowhunted there this morning and saw two small bucks sparring, a few does and fawns, and one 125-class 4x4 following a doe (not chasing). And one more thing: Our scouting cams have captured the No. 1 buck on our SD hit list several times during the past week, but he’s traveling only at night. Hopefully I’ll see him during daylight sometime between now and November 12, the last day of my rut hunt vacation.

Finally, I included the photo above to show readers of this blog how I typically run-and-gun when hunting the rut with a crossbow. I carry a daypack, cushion and tripod, and I set up with my back against a big tree, much the same way I hunt turkeys with a shotgun. I don’t worry about hauling in branches in front of me; the deer don’t seem to bust me provided I don’t move, and I don’t have to move due to the tripod and the advantages of a crossbow (not having to draw as I would with a compound bow). The other objects within easy reach are my rangefinder and my Knight and Hale Pack Rack.

Time to hit the road; it’s dark and I stopped at home in Minnesota to kiss my wife and kids, write the blog and re-pack. I have 3 hours of driving ahead of me, and I want to get some needed sleep. South Dakota here I come!

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