John's Journal...

The Best Week for Finding a Trophy Buck

Understand the Does’ Secrets

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Famed baseball announcer Dizzy Dean once said, “If you done it, it ain’t braggin’.” And friends, I’ve done it. I’ve found the magic week to hunt deer that increases my odds for bagging a trophy buck. You don’t have to bet on moon charts, tide charts, soothsayers or any hunting aids. I know the very best day to bag a trophy buck because I have the scientific research and the qualified experts to unequivocally back me up.

“Just before a doe goes into estrus, she begins to move away from other does and yearlings and into isolated, thick-covered areas,” Dr. Keith Causey, retired professor of wildlife at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, reveals. “A doe’s normal home range isClick to enlarge about 400 acres. However, just before she comes into estrus, she’ll move into and hold in a thick-covered region, usually 30 acres or less. As she starts into estrus, she’ll begin to urinate frequently and leave a tremendous amount of scent within that 30-acre range where she’s holding.” Research indicates that the doe stays within this 30-acre honeymoon site to let the buck find her. Some scientists believe the estrous doe moves away from other does and yearlings to keep the buck from becoming confused by other deer scents when he comes looking for her.

“Once the doe establishes this small area to hold in, she’ll remain in that region until the buck she wants to mate with comes in to breed,” Dr. Keith Causey explains. “Or, she may leave that area for a short time, if an inferior buck with which she doesn’t want to breed comes in and starts to chase her.”

Harold Knight, the co-owner of Knight and Hale Game Calls in Cadiz, Kentucky, has developed a hunting strategy that takes advantage of this new research.

“Three or four hunting buddies and I will take stands in small, thick-covered areas where does usually come to breed,” Knight comments. “If we spook a buck out of the area, we’ll still take a stand in one of these spots because we know that either that buck or another Click to enlargebuck will come there to check for a hot doe. If one of us spooks a buck, that buck will likely go to another patch of cover, looking and difficult decisions. Should you take that nice 8-point running behind the doe or wait to see if a bigger buck follows behind him? If you don’t shoot that 8-point behind the doe now, that doe may not be in estrous the next day you may not see a bigger buck behind her if you hunt in the same place tomorrow.

Realize How the Rut Affects the Home Range:

The Click to enlargedoe shrinks her home range during the peak of the rut to help the dominant buck find her when he comes looking. During breeding season, the dominant buck increases his home range to locate and breed more estrous doe. Because bucks expand their home ranges and move into territories they don’t normally frequent, they will fight with other bucks. Most of the all-out buck battles that occur during the peak of the rut will happen in thick-cover areas where does have laid-down strong estrous scent, and two bucks arrive at the same place wanting to breed the same doe at the same time. Therefore, just because you see a big buck in one of these thick-cover honeymoon doe sites, you can’t assume that’s the only trophy buck that will frequent that place during the peak of the rut. Since a dominant buck doesn’t have a well-defined home range, during the peak of the rut, several mature trophy bucks may come into the same doe sanctuary during the same day. “The place you’re least likely to see a trophy buck during the rut is on a green field,” Causey cautions. “Green fields draw yearling bucks and does during the peak of the rut. If you’ve been watching a green field all season, as the peak of the rut approaches, you’ll notice the older does move away from the green field and often will vanish from the green field for several days. If you can locate what those does do and where they hold, you’ll discover a spot where the chances are extremely good for taking a trophy buck during the best week to hunt.”

Tomorrow: Recognize the Different Types of Classes

Check back each day this week for more about "The Best Week for Finding a Trophy Buck”"

Day 1: Determine When’s the Deer Rut
Day 2: Take Steps to Have More Deer-Hunting Success
Day 3: Understand the Does’ Secrets
Day 4: Recognize the Different Types of Classes
Day 5: Where to Find Thick-Cover Sanctuaries   


Entry 481, Day 3