Anyone that chases whitetails has had visions.
Sometimes these visions happen at work. Other times they flash through our mind while we are driving and notice a picture-perfect piece of woods.
Still others are so infected they suffer from these visions while talking to their spouse.
What visions am I talking about?
Why I’m referring to visions of that monster buck stepping from nowhere and heading right toward our stands.
What else could it possibly be this time of year?
We are coming into the midst of the mystical and mysterious whitetail rut. We read about it, watch television shows about it and interrogate other hunters about it.
Nobody wants to miss it. Since we were little camo-wearing-deer-hunting-wannabes we have heard stories about it.
But what is it? Really.
Scientifically speaking it is the time of year when hormone raged bucks chase does.
Hunters usually see some true beasts during this time and therefore the legend of the rut grows each year.
For bowhunters though, it can be extremely challenging to be successful during the rut.
It is frustrating to see and watch huge bucks move about the woods and not be able to get within bow range.
This frustration often leads to lots of knee-jerk reactions. We may move stands. We might be tempted to do things we wouldn’t normally do.
Some tinker with thoughts that send them from being a hunter to a poacher. The temptation to bag a big deer can really mess with the mind.
For me personally, there are a few things that can be done to help increase odds of success and also keep yourself sane during this time.
This first one is so simple yet often overlooked.
To bag a true monster buck you have to have monster bucks on or near the property you hunt. It’s that simple.
Not every patch of timber has bruisers cruising through it.
This single realization can help you start to locate those areas that do.
What is the first thing to look for?
Deer, like most creatures, prefer to have a safe and comfortable routine. They like to have good cover near plenty of food.
They also prefer travel routes that meander along edges.
These edges can be the tops or bottoms of hills, along crop lines, or a simple terrain feature through the timber, but the fact remains, they love edges.
To be successful, we need to locate those areas that harbor good numbers of does each year.
Wild animals are masters of survival. If we can find the areas that help them meet that goal then we will see more of them.
Why I am so concerned with locating does? The bucks will follow.
How many times have you seen a man trailing behind and following his wife at the store?
It’s natural. They lead; we follow. Whitetails are no different. If you position yourself where deer naturally want to be, your odds of success have gone way up.
In the fishing world we often say that 10 percent of the water holds 90 percent of the fish.
The same thought process applies to the woods.
Once you are sure you have found a good area you need to plan your entry and exit routes with the care and precision of a special ops team.
I don’t care how many scent eliminator gadgets are on the market, you still need to be cautious of the wind.
The oldest and most savvy bucks check the wind regularly.
We have to remember there is always the possibility we will spook a giant deer before we even knew he was there.
Once you have your entry and exit planned there is one more thing you can do to really up your odds.
This last one is by far the hardest but most important; you need to spend time in the woods.
Sounds obvious right?
We have all climbed into the stands well before sunup and stayed in the afternoons until it is dark, but not enough of us hunt the middle of the day.
Those midday hours are magic for seeing bruiser bucks.
Every big deer that I have taken was tagged well outside the normal sunrise and sunset hours.
Those hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. are my target times if my schedule allows.
If I am going to try and give you a scientific reason as to why, I can’t.
I just know during the rut those daylight hours when everyone else went back home can be magic. If you have the chance this season give it a try.
If you find the deer, have a careful plan to get into the woods, and spend more hours on stand the chances of being within range of that huge buck will improve.
Good luck this month and enjoy the time outdoors even if you come up empty.