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Is post-rut the best time to bag a big buck?

Ask a group of deer hunters when theirpreferred time to hunt is and you'll likely get opinions that are as different as they are strong. Some favor the early season, when bucks are still on regular feeding routines, which makes them easier to pattern. They're also still in bachelor groups, which means where you see one, you'll likely see more. Other hunters prefer the early rut stages, when bucks are starting to patrol rub and scrape lines and their increasing intolerance of other males makes them more susceptible to aggressive calling and raiding. Still others enjoy the unpredictable excitement of peak rut, when mature bucks let their guard down and wander around in the full light of day; and they'll come to the sound of rattling with fire in their eyes. Only a select few, it seems, put the post-rut at the top of their list. While it may not be as glamorous, there are some good reasons why post-rut can be a very good time to bag a big buck.

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However, before we discuss why post-rut is a good time to fill your buck tag, let's briefly note the challenges hunters face during this period. In many states, post-rut is at the end of the season--especially for bowhunters. Hunters may have been chasing deer for two months or more. A fair number have already been killed, and those that remain have become quite intolerant of human disturbance. They're sequestered se·ques·ter  
v. se·ques·tered, se·ques·ter·ing, se·ques·ters

v.tr.
1. To cause to withdraw into seclusion.

2. To remove or set apart; segregate. See Synonyms at isolate.

3.
 in thick cover and seldom move during daylight. They may seem invincible, but they're not.

Beginning of the End

Rutting buck behavior follows a fairly predictable chronological progression, at least in a herd with well-balanced age structure. Younger bucks are the first to start acting foolishly as autumn breezes carry the first wisps of estrus estrus

Period in the sexual cycle of female mammals, except the higher primates, during which they are in heat (ready to accept a male for mating). Some animals (e.g., dogs) have only one heat during a breeding season; others (e.g.
 scent. Later, as testosterone testosterone (tĕstŏs`tərōn), principal androgen, or male sex hormone. One of the group of compounds known as anabolic steroids, testosterone is secreted by the testes (see testis) but is also synthesized in small quantities in the  levels start to peak, middleaged bucks get into the mix. They're out seeking, chasing and otherwise molesting does that are still not quite ready to breed. Mature bucks, meanwhile, are biding bide  
v. bid·ed or bode , bid·ed, bid·ing, bides

v.intr.
1. To remain in a condition or state.

2.
a. To wait; tarry.

b.
 their time. They've been through four ruts and have learned not to waste valuable energy until the odds of being rewarded are in their favor. Then, they kick it into high gear. This behavior carries over into the post-rut. Finding a sudden shortage of receptive does, the older bucks seem to redouble re·dou·ble  
v. re·dou·bled, re·dou·bling, re·dou·bles

v.tr.
1. To double.

2. To repeat.

3. Games To double the doubling bid of (an opponent) in bridge.

v.
 their efforts, wandering farther and wider from security.

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For his doctoral research, Dr. Mickey Hellickson conducted a three-year study of 125 radio-collared bucks on the Faith Ranch in Uvalde, Texas Uvalde is a city in Uvalde County, Texas, United States. The population was 14,929 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Uvalde CountyGR6. . He found buck activity was highest in January, during the post-rut period, and that a lot of that activity occurred during daylight hours. He attributed both, at least in part, to the older age structure of his sample. "The older bucks are still actively breeding," he noted, "while the younger bucks are worn out and have gone back to their bachelor groups."

Dick Arsenault, former president of the Maine Antler antler: see horn.  and Skull Trophy Club, noticed a similar pattern in records of the Pine Tree State's biggest bucks, which he compiled for more than 25 years. Good bucks are taken throughout Maine's general hunting season, which spans most of November. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Arsenault, however, the last week of the season (post-rut) is the best time to tag a mature buck.

Running On Empty

The end comes quickly. Daylight wanes. Testosterone levels plummet, and like a playboy after a wild weekend, bucks wake up one morning with their wallets and gas tanks empty. Their attention turns very quickly toward the business of replenishing vital fat reserves they'll need to survive the impending im·pend  
intr.v. im·pend·ed, im·pend·ing, im·pends
1. To be about to occur: Her retirement is impending.

2.
 winter. High-calorie food sources suddenly become big-buck magnets. These could be remnant standing corn or soybeans, late-season food plots or productive red oak stands.

Yet despite what we might like to believe, the rut does not occur in neat, precisely timed phases. Rather, it is a continuum, punctuated with peaks and valleys of activity. A few does will come into estrus a month before the main herd, sparking early rutting activity such as rubbing, scraping and some breeding. Most, but not all, of the unbred un·bred  
adj.
1. Not instructed; untaught.

2. Not yet bred: an unbred mare.

3. Obsolete Ill-bred; impolite.
 does will mate a month later, during peak rut. Any adult does not bred during this phase will come into estrus again approximately 28 days later. Furthermore, some doe fawns will experience their first estrus cycle during this later period.

This second rut is a much more subdued sub·due  
tr.v. sub·dued, sub·du·ing, sub·dues
1. To conquer and subjugate; vanquish. See Synonyms at defeat.

2. To quiet or bring under control by physical force or persuasion; make tractable.

3.
 affair. Bucks are no longer amped up on testosterone, but they still have enough in their system to know how to treat a lady. And instead of hitting the singles bars, they're working the restaurant circuit. Bucks, like those who pursue them, know the best place to find does is on late-season food sources.

Obviously, your odds of bagging a big, late-season buck vary with the circumstances. The heavier the hunting pressure, the lower your odds as the season progresses. Research tells us this is particularly true in states with early and/or long firearms seasons. It's also true of areas with a high proportion of yearling yearling

an animal in its second year of age, e.g. yearling cattle, yearling filly, yearling colt.


yearling disease
rinderpest in wildebeeste in the Serengheti.
 bucks is the annual harvest. There aren't many older bucks to begin with, and even fewer survive the season. However, if you can get onto private land with limited access, or lightly hunted public land, you might catch a bruiser bruis·er  
n. Informal
A large, heavyset man.


bruiser
Noun

Informal a strong tough person, esp. a boxer or a bully

Noun 1.
 making one too many trips to the all-you-can-eat salad bar.

Tip Of The Month: During the post-rut, hunt the sunny side of food plots. During the warmth of the early season, deer will most often enter food plots on the shady side
See also:
Shady Side may refer to several things:
  • Shady Side, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County
  • Shady Side Academy, a private school in Pittsburgh and Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania
 first. In the late season, they're more inclined to seek the warmth of direct sunlight.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Whitetails
Author:Humphrey, Bob
Publication:Petersen's Bowhunting
Date:Dec 1, 2009
Words:933
Previous Article:Grumpy old man.
Next Article:Release tweaks for hunting.



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