Still Hunting the Rut
The all-day sit is tough, especially if there’s not a lot of deer activity in your area in general. Rolling out of a warm bed onto the cold floor, the sound of dripping coffee and a ticking clock in a silent cabin. It’s the middle of the week and your hunting buddies don’t have a good job that allows the ample free time to hunt like you, so there’s no one to have a conversation with or make a plan. Life of the sole rut hunter can be mentally, physically and emotionally draining.
But, we have a solution. Because you know what is good for body and mind? Walking! That’s why we propose still-hunting on select days during this year’s rut.
Here’s how to be successful in doing so:
Know the Landscape
This could almost be an article in itself where we talk about the different types of landscapes and how to hunt them. Perhaps in the near future. Regardless, you know you’re hunting property and how the land lays out.
If you’re hunting in unfamiliar territory, take advantage of the technology at your fingertips. Quickly and easily pull up Google Earth or some other topo map on your smartphone so you can go ahead and layout your walking paths. If you’re fortunate enough to have no cell service in your hunting area, then plan ahead.
Look to clear cuts and large fields for the most rut activity. Try to catch bucks trailing does back to their bedding areas early in the morning and out to feed in the late afternoon. Walk with your nose in the wind, even if it’s “uphill both ways.”
Rise Early, Stay Late
Get to the woods early. Deer will typically head to higher ground in the early morning to bed. If you can get high on a hill overlooking a clear cut or even a clean hardwood ridge, there’s a good chance you’ll spot deer making their way back up to take advantage of the thermals. By identifying their travel funnels you’ll also know where to be in the evening when it’s time to feed. The advantage of still hunting here is you can hunt areas where you may never go due to a lack of optimal trees for hanging a stand.
Step Softly, Glass Often
Keep one eye on the path ahead and another on your surroundings. Opt for wet days when the crackle of leaves won’t alert deer in the area of your presence. Here’s when an 8x binocular with a wide field of view is going to be paramount. Even in the snowy, leafless woods, deer have a tendency to blend in and slip by unnoticed.
Riflescope With a Wide Field of View
The wide field of view should also apply to your riflescope. While half of the time you may be the first to spot a shooter, the other half means your target is moving, and quickly. Keep your scope on low power as you’re moving and when you must make a shot on a running buck. Remember to take a breath, exhale and squeeze the trigger.
When you’re looking for an excuse to stretch your legs and avoid an all-day sit, or spending several hours in the stand, get to walking. Bucks are chasing hard and the chance of you catching him off guard is really good.