Josh Boyd, column and photo:
Excitement is building among many groups of outdoorsmen and women, in Edmonson County and surrounding areas, in anticipation for the upcoming opening day of the state’s modern gun season. We are mere days away from what is regarded by many as the high-point of the Kentucky deer season.
Saturday morning will see an army of camo and hunter orange clad hunters enthusiastically take to the woods in hopes of filling the freezer. Some will experience success, others will come away empty handed, but all will make memories. Even if a hunter does not harvest a deer, the camaraderie that is shared, and the stories that are recounted among fellow outdoorsmen undoubtedly make this a wonderful time to be a hunter.
Of added advantage is the fact that this weekend hunters will be taking to the woods during one of the most noteworthy and awe-inspiring portions of season to be afield, the rut. As bucks travel wherever necessary in search of available does, hunters are poised to experience fast-paced action and highly elevated levels of deer movement.
One distinctive quality of this noteworthy portion of season is that hunters gain the ability to make their own luck by attempting to take advantage of a buck’s love-struck and aggressive tendencies. Using calls, scents, and even a decoy in open areas can be of benefit during the rut, as all these tactics carry weight when playing off a buck’s natural instinct to assert his dominance.
Hunters can use several different methods when calling during the rut. One such method is using grunt or bleat calls to entice cruising bucks to investigate the underlying area. Likewise, rattling antlers can be used to peak a buck’s curiosity by simulating a dominance dispute within the herd.
Scents can be utilized to a hunter’s advantage by luring a cruising buck in for a closer assessment of what has caught his attention. Doe-in-heat scents can be especially useful at this point of the season. Doe-in-heat scent piques a buck’s curiosity as they seek out any does within the area. This can be an effective strategy when used while hunting areas such as travel corridors and other high deer traffic locations.
A commonly overlooked, but often effective strategy when hunting the rut is to use a decoy. The use of a buck decoy can be an excellent way to catch a cruising buck’s attention. This strategy shines at its brightest when hunting open ground such as fields and open river bottoms. Upon sight, an attentive buck will typically come to check out the new “intruder” to the area.
An additional strategy when hunting the rut is to lengthen your time spent on stand. Contrary to other portions of the season when the bulk of the day’s deer movement is conducted during the first and last hours of daylight, deer movement during the rut can remain relatively prominent throughout the day. By planning an all-day sit on stand, or at the very least, staying afield a few hours longer, your chances of successfully harvesting a deer rise significantly.
As we close out the work week, thoughts will undoubtedly turn to the upcoming weekend’s adventures that await. With a little rut hunting know-how and a dose of luck, you will fill your tag in short order. Above all else, be safe and make memories that will last a lifetime.