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BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS: The rut is in full swing

As I type this article my cell phone begins to ding.

I have messages from my deer hunting friends telling me that the time is now.  Bucks are chasing does and the rut is in full swing.  One message said, “Four different bucks came by chasing does in the last 15 minutes!”  This is the time of hunting season that every deer hunter eagerly anticipates.

No one can say for sure exactly when it begins or when it ends, but when you are in the woods and it is “on,” there is no doubt.  Here are a few tried and proven methods for hunting the rut:

1. Sit all day
Most deer hunters like to hunt a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. When love is in the air, I encourage you to sit as long as possible.  Pack a lunch and plan to stay the entire day.  Bucks will be chasing does all day long, and if you aren’t there, then it stands to reason that you won’t kill them.

2. Be ready
It is hard not to doze off or lose focus while hunting, but try your best to concentrate during this part of the season.  Be sure to listen.  Many times you will hear the sound of a deer trampling through the leaves long before you see one.  Once you see the doe running, know that the buck is in pursuit.  He might be right on her tail or he might be 10 or 15 minutes behind. Realize this … he is coming. And you need to be ready to act when he arrives.

3. Use doe in estrous scent
During this phase of the season, bucks are scent-checking everything. They are looking for a doe in heat that is receptive to breeding.  A mock scrape, scent drag, or scent bomb, may be all that you need to peak his curiosity and draw the big one into range.

4. Hunt where does can be found
If you find the does this time of year, a buck won’t be far away.  Remember that just because a doe or group of does aren’t in their estrous cycle today, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be tomorrow.  Also keep in mind that a doe will repeat her cycle every 30 days until she is bred. You might want to hold off on shooting does at this time of year since they are magnets for giant bucks.

5. Whistle
When a big buck is chasing a doe, he has one thing on his mind and it isn’t food. He wants her. His eyes will often be glazed and his tongue will often be hanging out as he pants from the chase.  At this point you will need to whistle, bleet, bah, or make some kind of noise to stop him.  Be prepared to shoot because if he stops at all, it will only be for a few seconds.

These tips should all help improve your odds of success.  However the thing that separates the successful hunters from the unsuccessful one has and always will be patience.  Remember that good things come to those who wait.

A rut hunt can go from bad to world class in a matter of seconds.  If you have vacation days left … use them for the rut!  What are you waiting for?

Get out there and bag a big one. May God bless you this season.

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of the Outdoorsman’s Church in Winnie, owner of DuckDogTrainer.com and is outdoors writer for The News.