Post Rut Success | Better Late Than Never to Hunt

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It is getting later in November than most of us would like and thoughts of thanksgiving dinner are starting to fill our heads. If you haven’t got a buck on the ground, it feels like your best opportunities are slipping right through your finger tips. Right about now, a lot of hunters call it a day, cut their losses, and sit by the fire until gun season rolls around. My friend, this is the biggest mistake you can make!

Round 2

Some of the best hunting has yet to come! We’ve all heard of the second rut and if you haven’t, here is the scoop. Early to mid November, does start coming into heat and are bred a short time after. Once all the does in heat are bred, things really cool off in the woods for as much as a week. During this time, there is little to no rut activity, except for the occasional cruiser who doesn’t know when to stop. I think we all have a friend like this. This is no excuse to not be in the woods however because before you know it, BOOM! The late bloomers have come into heat and the bucks are back at it. These late bloomers are this years fawns that just took a few weeks longer than the older does to come into heat. The woods bursts back to life and it will seem like the rut had never stopped. This is where we as hunters have one of the best opportunities of the season to see the buck we’ve been waiting for all season and get a taste of post rut success.

Weary Travelers

By this time, bucks have lost a majority of the body fat they spent all fall storing up. Essentially, they are running on fumes. Just like people, when deer haven’t eaten in a while and have essentially been running an ultra marathon for weeks, they have certainly lost that edge or “6th sense” they seem to have all other times of the year. If you can believe it, they are even dumber now than they were at the peak of the rut, doing anything and everything to breed the last does coming into heat before it is all over with. Imagine a bruised and battered old monarch making his last rounds before he calls it quits for a few weeks to lick his wounds and regain his…WAIT! What’s that?! He picks up a whiff of the estrous you’ve hung just 20 yards from your stand. Instantly, he forgets how tired and hungry he is and the game is on.

Final Sit

So many hunters have capitalized on this opportunity and I am no exception. In fact, the very first buck I ever harvested was on the 24th of November. I, like the bucks who participated, was worn down from the rut, for different reasons of course. I climbed into stand for one of my final sits of the year. As i stepped from my ladder to the platform of my stand I happened to look up to see a mature buck at a dead run right for my stand. He had smelled the estrous I had hung no more than 2 minutes prior and wasted no time closing the distance. Before i could get my release on or an arrow knocked, that buck was standing directly beneath my stand trying as hard as he could to see the doe in heat he could smell. He stood in that spot long enough for me to get my equipment around and sink a Ramcat right through his vitals.

I learned early on that the post rut is one of the best times of the year to be in the woods for one reason, the mature bucks are vulnerable. I know you are tired and already looking forward to stuffing your bellies with turkey and stuffing, but don’t give up. Get out there with your estrous, your bleat can, and a doe decoy if it suits you, and take advantage of vulnerable post rut bucks.

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Originally published at on November 21, 2014.

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