Rut Report: November 6 (Buck Down!)

Day No. 6 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 South Dakota.

Let me get right to it; I did not shoot a buck today, but my dad scored in Wisconsin. As the photo below shows, my 77-year-old father tagged a big-bodied 5x5 with his crossbow. The buck was traveling solo at 9:30 a.m. through the same funnel where Dad hit a buck a few days ago. This funnel is connected to a primary bedding area on Dad’s 160 acres, and the buck was no doubt looking for a hot doe. This time my father made a perfect shot, and he’ll have a freezer full of venison as a result. Nice work, Dad!

I set my alarm extra early today (4:30 a.m.) in order to allow me time to pack my decoy and other gear a half-mile onto the neighbor’s property, and my hike was made even more difficult due to steady rain. But I got everything ready to roll by daybreak and was rewarded about an hour later when a 120-class 4x4 visited my setup. Interestingly, the buck didn’t immediately approach my decoy; instead, he bedded about 70 yards away on a hill and stared at my decoy for 1.5 hours! He finally rose and walked in, and even though I’d been watching him through binos for much of the time, I still hadn’t decided if I was going to draw on him. It was only when he was within 10 feet of my decoy that I decided to pass on the shot.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photo below (can you spot him?), but it took me several seconds to get my bow out of my hands, find my smartphone and then click the photo. He was headed away from the decoy by then, and I stopped him with a muffled snort-wheeze call. My best guess is he’s a 3.5-year-old. He’s a good deer for this property but not a great one, and with so much vacation time remaining, I simply didn’t want it to be over so soon.

I stayed in the field all day (four different stands because the wind changed from southeast to northwest), but I didn’t see much during midday. A few does and fawns were on the move, but no bucks came by me. I did have a cool encounter during the last 30 minutes of the day, however. A 4x4 (120-class) entered a small brassica/clover field, and because of the high winds (35 mph), I sat butt on the ground, hidden in a log pile on the edge of the field. The buck didn’t have a clue I was there, and he slowly walked and fed broadside only 17 yards from me. Because I had such sparse cover nearby, I didn’t risk a photo; plus, I was hoping a bigger buck was right behind him.

I’ll end this post by explaining the photo far above. When I spend all day in the field (11-plus hours), I carry a book to pass the slow times. I find it keeps me still in the stand, and my wife thinks I see more deer when I’m reading because my brain isn’t sending out “death wishes” to nearby animals. I glance up after every paragraph and it seems to work well for me.

One of these days the bucks should be chasing like crazy; maybe tomorrow!

North American Hunter Top Stories