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John's Journal... Entry 19 - Day 1

click to enlargeHUNTING DURING THE RUT

EDITOR'S NOTE: Bob Walker of Livingston, Alabama, lives in the heart of deer country, not far from the Mississippi border. He hunts almost every day of Alabama's 3 -month deer season, beginning with bow season on October 15th each year and ending on January 31st. Walker bags a number of deer each year and has started his own business of processing deer for hunters in his brand-new, health-inspected meathouse. You can contact Walker or his wife, Alice, at R & J Meathouse, (205) 627-4295.

QUESTION: How long have you been hunting deer?

ANSWER: About 30 years.

click to enlargeQUESTION: Since you live in Alabama where the deer season runs through the end of January, when does the rut take place?

ANSWER: You'll see signs of the rut in this west/central part of the state as early as December 20th to 25th each year. The peak is around January 15 in Sumter County where I live. The farther and north you go in Alabama, the peak comes earlier.

QUESTION: What kind of sign are you seeing here in the middle of December?

ANSWER: I'm seeing more scrapes and more bucks. A little before the rut, does start to disappear. They hide from the bucks because they're not ready for the rut. Although the does aren't receptive, the bucks are chasing the does, especially around greenfields. You'll probably think, "Where are all the deer?" And all you'll see are small bucks. Every buck that comes into the field will run the does out.

click to enlargeQUESTION: How do you scout for a place to hunt during the rut?

ANSWER: Early on, I look for numbers of deer and does. Usually by then, the hunting pressure has gotten to the deer, and they'll be holding in an area that has more cover. I'll look for a feeding site with acorns that is close to a thick-cover bedding area.

QUESTION: When you see a lot of does in an area with acorns and a thick-cover bedding area, how do you set up your stand to hunt a buck?

ANSWER: I either set up in a place where I can see a vast expanse of land from a distance so I can see numbers of bucks moving, or I'll choose a place where I can watch a thicket with a feeding site close by.

QUESTION: How far away do you put your tree stand from a thick-cover area?

click to enlargeANSWER: If I'm rifle hunting in thick cover, I want to be as far away from the deer as I can be, usually 50 to 100 yards. I don't want to spook them. At 50 to 100 yards away, I don't have to be as worried about the wind carrying my odor to the deer.

QUESTION: If you're hunting a power line, an open field or a clearcut, how far do you get from where the deer are crossing?

ANSWER: I always try to be less than 300 yards away from where a deer moves regularly. I'd rather be under 200 yards away. A deer may be running, and you may need to go out and stop him by whistling or something else. At 300 yards, you won't stop him because by the time you whistle and the sound gets there, he'll be gone across the opening.



Check back each day this week for more from Bob Walker...

Day 1 - Hunting During The Rut
Day 2 - Walker's Favorite Equipment For Hunting During The Rut
Day 3 - How To Know You're Taking The Dominant Buck
Day 4 - Bob Walker's Secrets To Stalk Hunting During The Rut
Day 5 - Rut Hunting Tactics That Produce Bucks

John's Journal