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Columnists : Dale Helgeson
Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

Techniques For The Rut
By Dale Helgeson
Nov 2, 2006, 09:37

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            It is that magical time of year again. The leaves have fallen off the trees, the farmers are working diligently in the fields to get their crops harvested and the whitetails are starting to move. The mornings have falling temperatures and the anticipation of the rut is here. One of the most amazing times in a hunterís year is upon us when you can see monster bucks moving about during daylight hours.

            Many people classify the rut as different time frames. Some say it is when the bucks are actually breeding but in my mind most hunters are actually referring to the late pre-rut when the bucks are actively chasing does and looking for a receptive doe. The bucks become vulnerable for the first time of the year during daylight hours. It is a much harder time of the year to hunt a particular buck has they will range several miles to find receptive does.

            What strategies should you employ for this time of year? Number one thing is to be in the woods as you canít harvest anything from the couch.

            Though many things have worked for me over the years I do have several things that produce on a consistent basis.

            Rut in southern Wisconsin where I am from, as far as the hunters are concerned, starts at the end of October and runs until our regular gun season the Saturday before Thanksgiving. At this time of year I employ many tactics in a single hunt. I like to use a good quality Scent removal system like Scent Killer, Scent Shield or ScentLok. I will try to first and foremost make sure I am as scent free as possible.

            After showering with all scent free shampoo and soap and using scent free deodorant I put on scent free clothing including undergarments like the ones from Contain Clothing. Make sure to wear enough clothes to stay out all day, this includes a couple pairs of quality socks like Black Mountain socks with Outlast technology and thermal underwear like Carol Davis.  

            Once you have yourself clean stay that way. Donít cook breakfast after you bathe. After heading out to the area that you will be hunting use outer clothing that is scent free as well. Several companies have jumped in the scent free clothing line. They all employ the best camouflage patterns from Mossy Oak and RealTree and the most successful for staying scent free would be ScentLok, Scent Shield and Contain Clothing.

            Once you have your outer garments on donít forget to spray with an odor eliminating spray. Make sure to spray your boots as well. but to be extra sure you don't contaminate your area with any foreign odors be sure and put on Elimitrax Over-Boot System and Elimiscent Gloves. Now you are ready.

            Once you are geared up and scent free and have headed into the woods and have scouted your favorite hunting stand or blind location it is time to head out to that spot. Try to sneak into the location walking into the wind whenever possible and try not to walk on a deer trail. When walking out donít walk too fast or steady in case deer are passed along the way. Try to walk and stop and listen every once in a while to imitate a deer moving along.

            Try using a scent drag to your hunting location. Use a quality scent like Robinson Outdoors, Wildlife Research Center, Mrs. Doe Pee, Tinks or Code Blue and drag a scent trail to within 15 yards of your location. Make sure to add some scent every 30-50 yards to freshen the scent trail. Once arriving at your hunting location hang the scent drag in a shooting lane within your shooting range. Also try to add some hanging scent pads or canister with additional scent. Make sure the scent is fresh and the same on all of the pads.

            Once at your stand or blind location try to get settled in quietly not to alert deer or any other animals that may be in the general area.

            Try to rattle, especially on cold calm mornings. Rattle and use a grunt tube while rattling. If you have ever heard bucks fight they really get after it. They make all kinds of noises while fighting so donít be afraid to make some noise including banging on branches and brush. When rattling start with a slow knocking of the tips together in case a buck is close by and that may be all that is needed to bring him in. If after 10-15 seconds you donít see any movement then start crashing the antlers together. Make it loud, as you are trying to imitate two large animals trying to kill each other. Do this for another 20-30 seconds as most fights donít last that long. After rattling, try to make a couple loud strong grunts to show dominance. Then get ready as often times the bucks will run in on you without you ever seeing them. Usually down wind from you.

            As the day progresses try to use a snort wheeze as it will often times bring bucks in but remember that when using calls they will almost always come in down wind from you and that is why you must be scent free. Primos make a nice snort wheeze call the ďBuck RoarĒ which is very effective. Use this throughout the day every 30-60 minutes.

            Decoying is another tactic that can be employed into your hunting arsenal. During the rut, try to use a buck decoy. Doe decoys can work if you have a proper buck to doe ratio but buck decoys seem to work better Bucks will often challenge a buck decoy as long as it isnít too large. So donít put out a 150 class decoy if you intend to shoot a 120 class animal. You need to know what size of bucks are in your area.

One way to find out what bucks are in your area put up motion sensor cameras like CamTracker & Trail Timer    or any other brand that will allow you to have quality photos with motion and heat sensors. You can also shine deer at night where legal. Check your local regulations as to whether it is legal and what times you may do so.

Always have the decoy face you or broadside as the challenging buck will usually come in at the head or side of the decoy. Place the decoy 10-30 yards from your hunting location depending on the effective shooting range and shooting lanes. Renzos silhouettes and CarryLite Decoys both work well. After placing the decoy make sure to eliminate your odor from it. Put buck urine by the decoy setup as well. Another trick that helps is a tarsal gland by the decoy.          

            If you get a buck hung up out of range donít be afraid to use some of the tactics to draw him in closer like tickling the rattle antlers together with a buck grunt and if he doesnít respond favorably through a snort wheeze at him and try to coax him in for a shot.

Dale proves, use the right techniques and you get your buck.

            Just remember that you canít shoot a deer if you are not out hunting and make sure to take a kid hunting to pass on the our great heritage that we have as hunters and outdoorsman.



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