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Big Game How-To NAW+ Trophy Bucks Whitetail

How to Call in Trophy Bucks During the Rut

by Casey Keefer   |  October 16th, 2013 0

The rut. It sounds off in October as a subtle melody, accompanied by calculated dance. The trees, once green with life, are now dotted with fiery red, yellow and orange. The boys of summer, who have co-existed peacefully for months, are about to become the men of fall. For whitetails all across the country, the rut is a symphony with a rhythm and rhyme all of its own. Learn to play along and dance to the beat, and you’ll be punching your tag in no time.

It’s been nine years since I began my crusade to learn everything humanly possible about a whitetail. In that time, I’ve employed countless tactics to get wise to a mature buck’s ways. Most have been unorthodox and a few have landed me in the doghouse. For example, in the fall of 2007, I thought it was wise to sleep with my bedroom windows open in order to hear the sounds of a buck as he would fight, chase, grunt, snort, rub and scrape his way to climax. I was two weeks into my apprenticeship when my wife informed me she was unwilling to sleep in a 50-degree bedroom for one more second!

For the past 14 days, I’d heard hundreds of whitetail sounds but I still couldn’t make sense of them. Then it hit me; I didn’t need to hear another sound—I needed to listen. So, just as any devoted husband would, I bought a space heater for her side of the bed and I set out to listen to the story through sound. What I discovered in the next 21 days (and in the subsequent five years of identical “research”) was a rhythm and a rhyme that has helped me become more successful during all stages of the rut.

The First Verse: Pre-Rut
Have you ever sat in your stand on a cool autumn morning, jacket zipped high to trap the steam from exhaled breath, and wondered what makes a buck tick? Some say the moon, some say the weather and others say food. I believe there’s some truth to all those answers, but I’ll save those discussions for another day.

In it’s most elemental form, the answer is simple. It’s sex, or perhaps you prefer breeding rights. You see, even in the early stages of the rut, a buck has a plan. His day’s events are simple. While heading out to grab some grub, he checks every signpost along the way. As he makes his rounds, his gait is a slow and steady rhythm in the crisp leaves. And when he happens upon a rival buck, he quickly halts and surveys the scene. His ears lay back, his head cocks and he does the sidestep stiff leg. His opponent accepts the challenge, and the dance begins.

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