(Originally published in the Merritt News – Othmar Vohringer The Outdoorsman)
© By Othmar Vohringer
At the opening of the hunting season the deer usually grazed late in the fields; often after dark to avoid the heat of the day and early evening. During the day the does and fawns browsed and bedded in the timber or in patches of tall grass along field edges. The bachelor groups of bucks seeking cooler climates and isolation tended to stay in the higher elevations.
At the first hints of frost in late October the bucks started to become more active. The maturing fawns fed more widely separated from each other and their mothers. The juvenile bucks began to test each other’s strength by mock-fighting each other.
Now with the temperatures falling well below zero Mother Nature begins to change drastically and so does the deer herd. Soon to be gone are the beautiful fall colours, to be replaced with tones of grey. This is the time for deer to prepare for the most important event of the year: the Rut.
For us who call ourselves hunters this may also be the most productive time to be out and about in the fields and woods. The bucks start to come into the open as they lose some of their cautious nature as they actively start to seek out the doe family units. The bucks are not yet actively looking to breed with does, they just want to know where they are and more importantly, they want to know where the older, more mature does will be. Those are the ones that will come into oestrous first.
The smart hunter knows that now is the time to observe the does closely and keep track of their movement. Now is the time a hunter has the best chance at a usually weary mature buck. But make no mistake; although bucks loose some of their suspicious nature as their hormone levels rise, they are not totally oblivious to danger.
Mature mule deer bucks visit the does only at night in the fields. Before daybreak they return to the hills and wait for the does to return from the fields where they join them. Your chances at a mature buck are much better if you learn where the does go to bed down and then set up close to them and wait for a buck to pay his visit.
Mature whitetail bucks are seldom seen standing in open fields during daylight hours; they mainly wander along woodland edges and in strips of brush or tall grass, providing them with good cover and a view of the open doe feeding areas. Try to find these buck travel corridors and you’re very likely to have an encounter with a mature whitetail buck in search of a doe.
If you haven’t had much hunting luck keep at it. Plan on hunting all day long because bucks will be moving around in search of does from dawn to dusk and all night long, eating little and sleeping even less. Good luck to you all.