As I’m writing this we are dead nuts middle of the rut, in what I would say is peak rut. I’ve had bucks tending and bedding with does since Nov 10th. During this time I find you have to get real close to get a shot. Well, everyone knows that but it’s unlikely you will be able to pull a buck away from a doe right now so you may need to try and set up in some gnarly bedding areas where they are bedding down during the day.
I find that when the bucks are bedding with a doe you can try everything in your bag and it won’t get his attention. Yesterday morning I had a nice 3 year old 8 point bedding about 80 yards from my stand. It was 31 degrees and freezing rain so the woods were loud and it was pretty much what you would describe as miserable out. I rattled, grunted, snort wheezed, sprayed a Doe ‘N Estrus Buck Bomb straight up in the air from my stand, and bleated well over 100 times. Rattling got his attention a little but not much. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t care. Maybe he thought it was miserable out to?
I saw him trot in from over 100 yards out by himself, and I had run out of ideas. He was directly downwind of me so a stalk wasn’t going to work. He was on a south facing slope looking over a CRP field too so I couldn’t approach from that side either. I had no way to close the distance. I was ready to ask Regis if I could phone a friend. I did eventually catch a glimpse of a doe bedded with the buck and it all started to make more sense. I think she must have been a bit in front of the buck when he came in and I just missed her.
Before I get in too far I want to take a second to describe a bedding area. Most of the bedding areas I see used are on a slope. I always find slopes are better than flat land as deer can see you coming from farther away when they are laying down. They also definitely favor southern facing slopes as it’s a bit warmer there from the sun in late fall. Of course, good bedding areas are usually pretty thick cover areas. In my area that means raspberry bushes, blackberry bushes, gooseberry, and the dreaded invasive Buckthorn. Buckthorn keeps its leaves a lot longer than the other trees in my neck of the woods so it works great for bedding areas come late fall. If you can find some of those areas you are well on your way.
Here are a few extreme scent control tips to make sure you can still close the deal before the rut is over:
- Spray the inside of your clothes, especially base layers. Skin to cloth when you have layers on will be the first place scent finds a home. When I see other people spraying down their clothes I notice most of the spray is on the outside of the base layers.
- Spray the inside of your boots with Scent-A-Way® Bio-Strike® Odor Control Spray. Make sure to pay attention to the bottom of your pants too, especially if you tuck them into your boots. Spray them so they don’t smell like your feet. You might think that’s not a big deal since you’ll put them back in your boot next time, but you can cross-contaminate your other clothes in your Scent-Safe™ Deluxe Travel Bag.
- Your bath towel needs to be scent-free. After you use the scent control soap and shampoo you should be scent-free, but if your towel smells like Summer Breeze why waste your time using your Scent-A-Way shampoo? (Side note: I’ve read how some hunters wash their bed sheets in scent-free wash. I don’t think that’s needed if you shower before you go out. But we’ve all hit snooze one too many times so that would maybe help if you didn’t prepare correctly with a shower.)
- Air fresheners in your - car-pitch ‘em! I drive about 8 minutes to my land and I usually have at least base layers on in my car.
- Wearing cologne on off days. Ok this is a stretch but I try not to wear any because I don’t want it to transfer to my seat belt. I know, over the top right…
- Backpacks are difficult to wash and they take up a lot of space. That means it’s extra important to thoroughly spray down packs if you’re not able to put them in a washing machine with odorless detergent. I make sure to have Fresh Earth Scent Wafers on my pack as it catches a lot of gear and at times doesn’t get the same care as my clothes when it comes to scent-safe storage.
I know these 6 tips may seem a bit extreme, but if you want to not only be in a buck’s home range but in his bedroom you need to take extreme measures to make sure every part of your body and clothes is scent-free. Get luck out there!