Only a few short weeks now until rifle season and buck sign is everywhere in the form of scrapes and rubs. Archers have it to themselves for now and this is simply the best time to be on a stand. Bucks are moving and the rut is building in intensity daily. We’ve had several reports of successful hunters this week and a lot more of archers seeing bucks, often several, each time they are out. For archers, this is a “must” week.
This is the time for doe-in-heat scents as well as rattle horns or rattle bags. Bucks will respond now to both. And with does just going into heat, competition is high among bucks and they will really follow a good scent. We’d go heavy with that tactic.
The other tactic this week will be to find does, set up there and wait for bucks to find the does. For that you need a good food source and we have seen very good sign in oak stands. Acorns are a prime food and this is a very good year. Hunt oak ridges or set up near them. This year could be outstanding when it comes to taking deer in areas near oaks.
But the best advice is simply to hunt every day that you are able. This is the time archers wait for and the time that gun hunters simply do not have available to them.
The gun hunters need to be getting ready. Sight in the rifle or shotgun that you will use. Don’t assume it will be accurate. And by all means, get the clothing and boots out and checked over, check the stand you’ll use, clip back brush for a clean shooting lane and attend to details. A successful hunt on opening day often starts now.
Upland hunters have great conditions now. Leaves are down at long last and birds are focused on food. Oaks, as they are for deer, are great food sources for grouse as are areas thick in clover. Birds are often spooky on windy days, so calm days or early mornings are often best. Woodcock seem thin now and the major flight may well be done.
Major flights for waterfowl are probably not done yet; reports are of many ducks in Canada. But every day with a good wind can bring ducks in now, especially to bigger water.
That same big water can be the spot for late season muskies. The colder water has slowed muskies down a lot; you need to do the same with your presentation. Big suckers rigged under a bobber make a lot of sense now as do large, slow lures, Suicks and the like. But you must keep it slow!
And a final note: With bucks moving with abandon during the rut, be very careful driving. Bucks can lose their caution during the rut and accident rates increase a lot now.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.