The most popular week of deer hunting has passed as fast as the Thanksgiving leftovers, but there’s still another week of buck season left for those, including me, that weren’t so lucky. I like hunting during the second week as the deer start to calm back down some and the bucks are on a frantic search for the last does in heat. The buck harvest looks like it’s going to be down this year, so there are still bucks roaming around; it’s just finding them.
The mast this fall has been spotty and I’ve still been seeing the does in the fields. They aren’t traveling very far and the big mature bucks have headed for heavy cover. After the first 3 days of gun season the bigger bucks tend to find the thicker areas and move less by the end of the week. It happens every year.
The rut is still on but will be winding down. During the rut the bucks aren’t as concerned with feeding as they are with mating. Once a buck finds a hot doe he will lockdown with her for 2 to 3 days before moving on to find another. During this lockdown phase of the rut the buck and doe do their thing and usually don’t move very far throughout the day. I have observed this in the past as well as last week.
The new moon and the peak of the rut coincided with each other and took place during the first week of buck season this year. I saw a lot of deer the first 2 days, including a couple of 2 ½ year old 8-points and a few other smaller bucks. All of them were chasing after does. They moved all day long the first two days, but the action slowed down after that as the bucks chased down and found the hot does.
On Wednesday, the 3rd day, the wind was blowing so hard it was downright dangerous to be in the woods. By the end of the week the few bucks spotted in my area were right behind a doe following her every move. On the first morning of buck season I had a coyote interrupt my hunt. I was sitting in a ladder stand positioned on the edge of a power line right of way. I can see 400 yards in both directions and it's a good stand for buck season. Around 10 a.m., a doe and little one came busting out of the woods and ran into the power line. They stopped and looked back and I got ready, as I was certain a buck was chasing them. They stood there for a few seconds and then ran off. I caught movement in the direction they originally came from and to my surprise it wasn’t a buck but an ole wily coyote that was after them. Needless to say, I helped that doe and little one out. I saw the majority of bucks chasing the week before buck season began. I had a nice 8-point buck come by on the Thursday before the buck season opener at 42 yards while bow hunting in Braxton County. I thought he was going to get closer but he had other plans and cruised on through. Looking back, I should’ve taken the shot, but I was hopeful I would see him again last week. He never showed, but there’s still this week left. As I mentioned earlier, I like hunting during the second week of buck season as I’ve had success in the past. Three years ago, I finally connected with the buck I was after on Dec. 1 during the second week of the season. I’ve taken bucks on the next to the last day and even the last minute of legal shooting time on the last day. There’s still one more week to rifle hunt for a big buck, so don’t throw in the towel just yet. The bucks should be back on the move looking for one last chance to mate before it’s all over until next year. The lack of hunters compared to last week will help as well as the deer will calm back down. As always hunt where the does are hanging out and a buck will sooner or later come by. Buck season ends on Saturday, Dec. 7. Good luck. o