Rut Report Nov. 13: Overtime Begins

Day No. 13 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.

Today (November 12) was supposed to be a final day of my 13-day rut hunt/vacation, but I’m calling an audible: I’ve made arrangements with my coworkers (read: they’re covering for me, and I’m going to stay in South Dakota to bowhunt Thursday and Friday (November 13 and 14), as well as the weekend. My wife will join me once again for the weekend hunt.

I had great confidence in my morning setup, and I left my in-law’s an hour earlier than normal to ensure I wouldn’t spook any deer as a crept into the river-bottom. Unfortunately, the deer didn’t parade by my ladder stand as hoped. Temps were cold (8 degrees) with strong west winds, and even though I sat in my treestand for more than 5 hours (thanks to a Heater Body Suit), I never had a mature buck pass within shooting range. The doe shown above gave me a great shot opportunity, but I won’t think about tying my tag to a doe until late December.

During my afternoon hunt I sat in a ladder stand only 75 yards from my morning spot; this stand overlooks a small brassica plot, and I placed my DSD buck decoy in the field to spice up the scene. The brassica field looks like a cattle yard with deer sign, and I was betting that one of the good-size bucks I spotted on the edge of this field yesterday afternoon would visit it again.

Deer started arriving to the field about an hour before dark, but it became clear that the shifting/swirling winds were going to be trouble. Several times I had deer step onto the field, raise their nose, not like what they smelled, then leave. Frustrating.

I did have a close-call, however. I was standing watching several deer in the field (three small bucks and a doe) when I heard a foot-fall directly behind me. I turned my head to see a mature 4x4 slowly walking broadside at only 15 yards. I reached for my bow and turned my head to look again at the buck, and he’d stopped to stare at my decoy. There was simply no way with the snow and ice on my boots and the ladder platform that I could turn my body in the stand without being busted, so I had to bet on the buck walking onto the field to challenge my decoy. But that didn’t happen. Instead, he slowly walked off in the direction of a standing cornfield.

How big was this buck? Truthfully, I’m not sure. I glanced at him only twice for a split-second, and while I know he wasn’t a giant, he might have been closer to 130 than 120. Oh well . . . maybe I’ll get a crack at a bigger one tomorrow.

Sudden death (hopefully a buck’s death) begins tomorrow!

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