5:00am is on my phone alarm clock as it goes off to remind me that the morning has arrived. It is October 25th and this is the first day that I will be out in the tree stand with temps in the 50’s! WOW! The cool eerie morning is so nice as I shower and get as much scent off of me as possible, grab my base layer, eat some breakfast really quickly, and drive to the property where I will spend the rest of the morning watching the woods.
The wind is perfectly headed ENE with a light rain continuing to come down as I watch the water bead up and roll off my early season jacket. The smell of the fresh grass, the light wind blowing and the crackles of leaves gives me goosebumps as I image turning around in the tree and seeing a giant behind me!
This is the start of the pre-rut here in Virginia. I was able to see some movement with deer over the weekend that was a little quicker in pace than usual. I can also see deer paying more attention to scents and mock scrapes from checking my cameras and being out in the stand. These are great signs! It is proof that things are warming up in the whitetail woods and that the changes that every hunter is hoping for are coming quickly!
Right now, the changes that most of us will see are going to be on our cameras as we see bucks change from evening and overnight pictures to more daylight pictures. This is typically what I will see on my cameras and in the woods as I sit in the stand. The trends that we all saw in the summer have already changed but now it is time to pay attention to what we saw last year at this time of year. I remember seeing the bucks start popping up at 7am and 4pm or so on camera within the last week of October. By November 5th or so, the swing in action was great and here in VA, since it is warmer, the trend continues later in the month of November.
I want to point out something I find useful that could help you with the rut. I love checking out the feedback that you can get online from Cabela’s Deer Nation. I always like to see what other guys are seeing in the woods and it relates it to a heat map that will show what parts of the country are seeing the most movement. This is relevant for 2 reasons.
-If you hunt out of state (as I will be), you can know what to expect when you get there
-It will help you prep what you should take in the woods.
Something else that I would like to add is that I finally took a grunt call into the woods this last weekend. As I head into this next week, I will be adding my rattle pack and a doe bleat to my pack as well along with my grunt call. Mock scrapes were already set to see what action I have on camera so that isn’t an issue but this is where some dominant buck urine or synthetic urine that your state will allow would be a great tool.
The one thing I want to caution you on is blind rattling or calling. The point of taking the calls into the woods is to see what a bucks reaction would be if he is headed away from you. For example, i had a buck come out upwind of me and he was crossing through an opening in a small field as he was headed into thicker cover about 30 yards across. Since he was headed away from me, I had my grunt tube and gave a couple light grunts to see what would happen. He stopped, turned around, looked my way and then headed back towards where he was headed in the first place. It was clear he heard it but I wouldn’t be getting him closer to me. I tried one more time and that didn’t do anything either. He was gone~
Blind calling and rattling poses a risk vs reward that right now isn’t worth it. A buck could hear it and spook or he will come and snoop around while you have no idea where he is. If he catches your movement in the tree, he will be gone and you never saw him in the first place which is a big miss. If there is anything that you gain from today’s post, this is it!
As the rut continues to develop, the rattling will continue to get more bucks’ attention. I remember last year I saw a couple bucks at this time of year sparring a bit. Then, i slowly watched them head into a thicket really close to them. I began to rattle and one of the bucks came running right back out towards my stand. As I stood there paying attention to one side of the field, I didn’t notice the buck that popped his head out from the opposite side of the field as he was watching the other buck running towards him. This was a perfect scenario of calling in a buck with a rattle pack. I would expect this same scenario to pop up this upcoming weekend and potentially into the 1st week of November.
I hope that you all have the same fun in the woods as I have been and look forward to your updates and stories. I will be updating as well with my latest sights, thoughts, successes and failures. In the meantime, have fun our there and Scout, Hunt, Repeat!