Okay, finally November has arrived. Those outdoorsmen with a passion for deer hunting know what I'm talking about. The time of the year when the "big boys" show, when the woods seem to explode with activity and your chance of harvesting that monster buck is at an all time high. If patience persists, and you are blessed with hunting areas with a good deer population, you will likely see things that are not normally viewed by the average hunter. We are taking about the various phases of the rut, some of which have already been underway.
My earliest recollection of true rut activity began many years ago while sitting in a tree stand overlooking a food plot. I had become fascinated with just watching deer and deer behavior, and was not interested in harvesting any of the does that were feeding in the field. It didn't take long for the first buck to arrive. He was small, probably a 1 1/2 year old with a very small rack. He didn't seem to be interested in eating, but rather spending his time moving from doe to doe seemingly just "checking them out". As he seemed to become more persistent, the does became more belligerent. They were not going to put up with his involvement in their personal activities. I knew something special was going on, but had never observed the behavior before. It soon became clear we had entered the "pre-rut" phase of the year. That time when young bucks were feeling their oats, while does were not near becoming receptive. I've observed this behavior many times sense, and it never fails to amuse me at what the "youngsters" will try and how the does will respond, (can you say a "swift pawing").
The chase phase will soon follow. I define it as when the earliest does will start coming into estrous. Now we see multiple young bucks showing up and beginning to seriously "harass" certain of the does. This is, for most young bucks, the first and maybe only opportunity to win the opportunity to breed. This phase will continue until the full phase of the rut occurs. This is the craziest time of the year, when it seems every buck in the country is chasing every doe in the country. This is the most exciting time of the season for me. I love to watch the activity as it peaks, the sounds that come with the peak of the rut, and the "dumbfounded" looks of the bucks involved in the chases that don't stand a chance against the big boys. This peak period is the time that has worked most effectively for me with calling. My "tic, tic, tic, tic" calling replicates the sound of the buck tending a hot doe. This has brought more bucks into my view than anything else I've learned about deer hunting.
While we all wish this part of the season never ended, sadly, it does and when it turns off the woods change dramatically. All of a sudden, the deer activity stops and it seems deer disappear. Don't fret though. You still have secondary ruts to look forward to and they can be every bit as dramatic as the first primary rut.
Now, the real reason for the title of this blog; I didn't start seeing the activity I described by heading to my stand only to sit for an hour or two. I began to dedicate my time to longer stand sits, sometimes all day long. I learned by listening to other hunters describe the activity they were seeing during midday to early afternoon; the time we traditionally think deer movement stops. During the rut, it does not stop and you can potentially see activity all day long. There will be those lull periods so plan how you will spend your time on stand; a good book is an easy answer, and don't forget the beverages and snacks to keep the hungry away.
Commit to spending more quality time during the various phases of the rut in the woods and see if it leads to more frequent and exciting activity for you. This is fun stuff!
Good luck and "rut" hunt hard.