JUST ONE HOT DOE
Most bowhunters think of the rut as one big free-for-all with bucks running all over the place. In reality, even in the best places, it is not like that.
The rut progresses in fits and starts. One day things can be red hot and the next day the woods can be dead. I used to wonder why it happened like that. Rather than 20 days of great hunting, the typical rut yields maybe four, or you are really lucky, five.
The reason finally hit me. Once the does start breeding, everything depends on having a hot doe in your area. If you have a hot doe, every available buck within as much as a half mile will be there checking things out. They just know when it is happening even if they are hours late to the chase, they still come trickling past.
I once shot a hot doe in mid-November that died 30 yards from my stand. For the next four fours I had bucks crawling all over the place. Three of them even tried to breed the fallen doe. I had ten bucks come past within bow range. In a normal morning on that stand, I would do well to have two or three come past.
That was the situation on Aaron’s public land hunt. The hot doe was pulling all the bucks in that area and it seemed that Aaron was hunting the promised land. I hate to be a pessimist, but I am pretty sure that piece of ground was not that good all rut long. He caught things just right – he in the right place on one of those five wild days – and he made the most of it.
If you are out of the game, not seeing the bucks, don’t lose heart. All it takes is one hot doe coming past to turn your entire season upside down.
It is very hard to predict when those four or five good days will fall, so you just stay out there as much as possible, hunting carefully in areas with solid doe numbers and eventually the chase will find you.