Once the primary and secondary ruts wind down, worn out bucks retreat to their main residence area and into the core center of that zone. This is their most secret, comfortable, safe, hiding sanctuary, where they can rest, recover, eat, and build their energies back to normal.
Hunting a post-rut buck in these areas is the trickiest of deer hunting business, but also one of the most productive and self-satisfying.
“If there is a secret to slipping into a buck’s primary territory to the very core of his bedding and resting zones, it is the wind, and thus absolute scent control is necessary,” Shawn Perry said. “It should go without saying that you have to be quiet, slow, deliberate, and focused to sneak into a buck’s bedroom, but without playing every element of scent control, then being stealthy becomes just a textbook strategy.”
There are some old wives’ tales about how disoriented and absent-minded bucks get during the rut, but most of those behavioral characteristics are over-played. A white-tailed deer, after all, is a wild animal — and it never really totally lets its guard down.
Sure, when breeding bucks are highly focused on the estrus does, but they remain keenly aware of their surroundings and any intrusions into their domain.
Post-rut bucks are no pushovers, either.
“Approaching a buck’s retreat in the post-rut is the ultimate test of a deer hunter,” Perry said.” Everything has to be done right to get close enough to spot a deer laying low, much less being lucky enough to get a shot. Without taking one step into this environment, make sure to check the wind, direction, velocity, and characteristics. Is the wind steady, constant, swirling, or what? If wind conditions are not right, then don’t waste your time. One whiff carried to a buck’s nose will bust the whole set up. Trust me, I have been there.”
Perry suggests traveling light.
“Now this may sound silly, but when I still hunt bucks after the rut, I go as light and clean as possible,” he said. “By that I mean, nothing hanging off of me to snag on anything in the woods. I don’t carry a pack, a knife on my belt, and I even take my sling off. I’ll shuck a heavy coat so I can move quietly with full movement. My pace is slow and my visual acuity is on full alert. Moving this way, I can sneak up on bucks.”
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