By Alex Comstock
It was November 12th, 2016 and I had just slipped into the stand for an all day sit. The sun was set to rise in an hour, giving me roughly thirty minutes of enjoying my time in the darkness until it was light enough to see.
Not more than fifteen minutes had gone by, and all of a sudden in the shadows I could make out movement. A deer was clearly headed my way, and after getting my binos up, I could see that a doe was running in a full fledged sprint. She came within five feet of my stand, and a couple of seconds later I caught more movement. A big buck was on her tail. He followed the same path as her, coming within feet of my treestand, stopping practically at the base of my stand to let out a loud grunt, and then continued in pursuit. I couldn't believe it. I needed ten more minutes of light to get a shot, but had to just watch him through my binoculars. A couple minutes later, another mature buck came zooming in on the trail of the doe.
Before it was even light enough to shoot, I had seen two shooter bucks, both within ten yards on the trail of a hot doe. I was zoned in as the sun rose that morning, thinking I was about to have bucks running all over the place all day. I sat in that stand for the whole day and saw zero more deer. And that my friends is the rut in a nutshell. Things can be crazy, but it usually happens quick, and you never know when it can happen.
What The Rut is Made out To Be: Often, the rut is made out to be this time of the year that bucks are running wild 24/7, not thinking about anything other than breeding does, and it's a shoe in you'll have encounters with mature bucks left and right. Yes, things happen during the month of November that wouldn't any other time of the year, but it's not constant. I think tailoring your expectations is important, because it can be a particular letdown to you if you're expecting nonstop action, but don't see a mature buck for a couple of sits or even longer.
Sticking It Out: Understanding that those "rut" moments may come in small doses is important for a number of reasons. I think that if you understand even though those moments may be spread out over time, anything can still happen at any second, and the only way to experience those moments is to be in a tree. Therefore, the more time you spend in a stand or blind, the better chance you have at catching that mature buck chasing a hot doe, or fending off another buck. I can't stress it enough. Getting down on yourself if you don't see a mature buck for a few days won't get you anywhere. Stick it out, and eventually something positive will happen.
Be Ready When The Moment Presents Itself: During the rut, it's not uncommon to spend long hours in a tree. It's easy to get bored, and not be ready when an encounter does happen. Even though those instances of the rut you dream of may come in small doses, it's crucial to be ready for them, because they can happen quick. One moment you could be sitting in the tree, not having seen a deer for hours (or days) and then out of nowhere a mature buck chases a doe by your stand. If you aren't mentally alert, and ready for that moment, it may flash by you without a shot opportunity. If you are ready though, you'll be able to act quicker, and have a better chance at capitalizing.
Conclusion: When it comes down to it, unless you're hunting a highly managed property in an area that has an optimal buck to doe ratio with hardly any hunting pressure, the rut isn't a nonstop buck parade. November can still provide instances that wouldn't happen any other time of the year. Buckle in and be ready!