Clint Ferguson

Clint’s on assignment this week, fishing in upstate New York. Here’s his column from this week 5 years ago.

With Halloween over and the calendar flipped to November, one 3-letter word sums up the weeks ahead, the “rut.” Right now is the best time to deer hunt as the bucks go into the seek-and-chase phase of the rut. The bigger, mature bucks are starting to show themselves as the first does of the year are starting to come into estrous.        

Beware while driving as the road kill will increase significantly in the weeks ahead. This is always a sure sign that the rut has kicked in. The does are in the process of running their fawns off, and when you start seeing the young deer wandering around by themselves, you know that the action is about to pick up.                           

Be sure to watch the does closely as they’ll let you know when a buck is about ready to come running out. They tend to be on edge when the bucks start chasing hard, and when you see a doe pick her head up and start glaring in a certain direction, look that way and get ready.

It always amazes me every year how the big bucks just start showing up. They can be here one day and a mile away tomorrow. Once they find a hot doe, they’ll tend to stay close to her for 2 to 3 days before moving on to find another. Those big bucks will cover some ground to find that first doe in estrus.                  

I saw a really nice 8-point following a doe a couple of days ago. The action is definitely starting to pick up, and it’s no doubt my favorite time to be in the woods. As always, find the does and the bucks won’t be far behind.

Natural funnels like low gaps, river bottoms, hollows coming together, any pinch points that cause the deer to travel a certain way are good places to hunt during the rut. With the abundance of acorns in the woods this year, the deer I’ve been seeing are in the timber.    

I’ve been hunting woodlot edges and have been seeing a lot of deer. The deer I’ve been seeing in the fields are passing through and grabbing a quick bite of clover along the way, unlike last year where they were staying in the fields all day. Finding the available food sources will lead you to the deer this year, and where I’ve been hunting, it’s in the woods.                                   

For me, November always marks a month of strategizing and hunting deer. When I’m not in the tree stand or blind, I’m thinking about which one I’m going to hunt next. Visions of big bucks run through my mind, especially the big one I’m after.        

I’m looking forward to spending several cool, frosty mornings waiting patiently for the big one to come by. The last of the oak leaves are hanging on, providing some color to the landscape before the dull drab winter woods remain. The big bucks are on the move, so get out there this weekend and next as it doesn’t get much better. Be safe, wear those safety belts and good luck. q

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