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In this segment we look at the differences in deer activity during the 2nd Rut. The differences are significant.
One biggie is in buck movement. It’s half of why the 2nd Rut is so different.
Now this discovery, did not just fall in my lap, so to speak. It came on slow, discovery by discovery, as I learned about the real life of bucks and does in the deer woods that I was bowhunting.
Honestly, I didn’t have a plan. I just decided to hunt deer during our entire 3 month season and arranged everything so I could. The things I learned were, so to speak, added value. And the next year the added value tripled, and the 3rd year the pieces of the puzzle began falling together in ways I never imagined. And now, 20 years latter I’m still learning as each year’s subtle surprises open my eyes to the reality of the life of whitetail bucks and does.
Everyone tells you that before, after and during the peak rut, bucks expand their range and can be seen a few miles away from their home range. I can not verify that they travel miles because I don’t have access to the properties that surround our land; however, I know that a lot of them go somewhere else because I don’t see them or take their pics on my cameras during that time.
For certain, I do know this, during the peak rut and several days before and after it, I see bucks that I’ve never seen or taken game camera pictures of. But, I rarely see those bucks again. They moved through and moved on. And that’s enough said about the peak rut because this article is not about the peak rut.
My hunting area is 1,000 acres that is 2 1/2 miles long and it’s narrower in width. Almost daily, deer travel from the thick woods and cedar breaks on the South and West of the property, as well as adjacent properties, and go over to the planted grain fields along the winding river on the North and North East sides. Year round, deer also come across the river to go to these fields — but it’s also by habit, too. At night, and during early morning and evening hours, the grain fields draw a lot of deer, both does and bucks of all ages.
During the 2nd Rut most of the does are done with the rut and back in their groups — and their movement is more like it was at the beginning of the season.
But … you’re waiting for me to tell you about what the bucks are doing during the 2nd rut, right? Let’s get to it…
Simply put, years of my buck sightings and game camera pictures prove to me that the bucks are returning to their home area during the 2nd rut. Meaning, bucks I haven’t seen for a few weeks suddenly show back up — in some of the same places they were earlier.
Another big difference is a change in the hunting pressure. Many hunters have tagged a deer or filled their tags and are through hunting.
The weather is different, too, it is a lot colder. Because of those factors the number of hunters in the woods is noticeably less than it was earlier.
That increases deer movement, because there is significantly less vehicle intrusion into the deer woods and there are not as many hunters either. And the deer quickly learn where they can go and not encounter hunters.
So here is what’s happening once the 2nd rut is on. In spite of the misinformation about older fawns coming into estrus, there are actually more un-bread does than many people think. Also, the bucks in your area are returning home. And both of them, the unbred does and the returning bucks, are ready to ramp up their efforts to locate one another.
Which brings us back to you and me, the ones who want to find where these deer are trying to locate each other.
And that takes us to the next segment in our 2nd Rut break down, the Location segment. In the meantime, here is a picture of a 2nd Rut buck from this last season. I call him Stuck Up (SU for short) because he has some fine stickers on his antlers. He was around all spring and summer and I put pictures of him in velvet on Bowhunting.net. He stayed around in October. Come November he soon disappeared. But he showed back up the last days of December. I took this picture on January 1, 2014.
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