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Whitetail tactics.

It may be stating the obvious, but deer exhibit different types of behavior over the course of a hunting season. So why don't those pursuing the deer change, too? Understanding and anticipating evolving behaviors will allow you to tailor your hunting strategy and stay one step ahead of a big buck. However, if you only know one step--the "proven method" or "what always worked in the past"--you're really limiting your potential. Expand your strategy--and your success--this fall.


It's early season, velvet's being shed, and the boys are still running together in packs. This is the time bucks will start feeling their oats and sparring. The proven method of hunting for this time of year is to hunt the travel lanes near bedding areas. Since there isn't any serious head-banging going on yet, try tickling the tines together--ever so gently. This may induce a buck to sneak over and check out the competition before there is a real fear of getting whooped.

Decoys may also work at this time of year. Because the bucks aren't looking for ladies yet, you'll need a buck decoy in a non-threatening pose--feeding. This will pique another buck's curiosity. However, a decoy with its ears laid back, standing broadside with its head level, would be threatening and unnatural.


During the chase phase of the prerut, the bucks are chasing and the does still have no intention of being caught. However, the bucks are silly and looking to check out any doe. Most does are not hot enough (in estrous) to hold the buck's attention, though. The tried-and-true solution would be a doe decoy to grab his attention. Expand your strategy, and remember that dominance is exhibited during the chase as well as when sparring. If the dominant buck is on the doe, he will follow closely and fend off lesser bucks. If a lesser buck is chasing and a more dominant buck joins him, the lesser buck will back off and follow at a distance, letting the dominant buck chase the doe nose-to-tail. In either case, when multiple bucks are tailing one doe, the first buck past your stand is likely the dominant buck in the chase.


Sparring will peak in September, then drop off until just before the peak of the rut, when the true battles start between bucks of even stature. Consequently, this is the period when rattling is going to yield your best results--good information, but it's something you have likely done for years with varying amounts of success. Spice up your rattling session with an aggressive decoy as described earlier--ears pinned back and threatening. When this works, it almost works too well. Be alert. When the buck comes out of the woodline, charging, and hits the decoy, you may not have a lengthy window of time before the buck realizes he's been deked.



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Author:Dolbee, Dave
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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