The often missed second rut
In the world of whitetail hunting, controversy is never hard to find. Just ask anyone an opinion on any of the multitude of whitetail deer subjects and you’ll see what I mean. So who do you listen to? What do you listen to? Who’s right an who’s wrong?
Through the years, I’ve found peace with this sport. First it was the pressure of filling the tag. Then it was trying to harvest a big buck. Then it was trying more archaic weapons. Then it was trying different strategies, and on and on. What works for me now might not work for the next guy down the street but nevertheless, it works. The same goes for what doesn’t work. Individual goals in this sport are different and attitudes play a controversial role with regards to technique. I chose to write about just one of these subjects since time is a factor for those who choose to take advantage of the second rut.
The second rut, what is it?
We all are familiar with the whitetail rut. Most hunters are aware that the rut is actually broken down into several stages, i. e. the pre-rut, the rut, post rut and so on. Some are also aware of this second rut that appears in December. But this second rut doesn’t stay for long. It’s sort of like a shooting star, if you catch it, it’s really fun, if you don’t you’ll have to wait for the next opportunity. The second rut by description, starts around 26-28 days after the initial rut in November. It happens because some does haven’t been bred when they came into estrus the first time. It also comes into play when the yearlings come into estrus their very first time which is common for them to do so in December. A piece of cake, right? Just count back 28 days or so from the peak of the rut and start hunting. Here’s where the controversy kicks in.
When did the peak occur? Just read comments around the internet with regard to the rutting activity here in Illinois and you hear it all. Some will say the rut came in quick, others say late, and oh yes some will say it didn’t happen at all. This could create a problem when trying to catch this second rut as it only happens for a day or two. So what happens now? Find an envelope of opportunity!
I collect data from different sources and have been doing so for some time. When I write the Mini-Mag for Non Typical Hunter, I use a collection of information from other hunters and summarize the findings. I have found by losing the prideful attitude, listening to what’s working and using additional sources to validate the stats, the results turn positive for the most part. Having said that, I’m guessing that this second rut will happen from the 7th to the 17th of December. This is what I call a 10 day envelope of opportunity for the second rut. What do I base this information on? Where do I collect this data? Several sources.
1. Hunters. Based on the amount of time they spent in the woods compared to what type of activity they witnessed during that time.
2. Taxidermist. Based on how much business during a given time period.
3. State info. Based on percentages of buck/does ratios during a given time period.
4. Myself. Based on what I’ve witnessed in relation to time spent in the timber.
5. Joe the plumber…just couldn’t resist putting that in here!
The buck pictured above was taken during the second rut back in 1995. Although this picture was taken in my garage, I can assure you it isn’t there now. This 191” typical is one of my best trophies so I place this mount in a spot where I can appreciate its beauty. I wouldn’t have had the chance to enjoy it so much if it wasn’t for this second rut. I remember hunting this awfully dead time period in December when all of a sudden, things got crazy for a day. Crazy it was, and down this bug guy went. I didn’t have a clue when the second rut was going to hit, but I knew it was, so off to the woods I went. I’m now more prepared then I was back in 95’, so I adapt with the changes more readily.
What does this all mean to you? It means if you haven’t filled your buck tags after the second gun season here in Illinois, or by bow, there is more action on the horizon! Should you take my word as Gospel? Nope. But do your homework, ask around, compile your own data and put it to use! Just because we’ve had a controversial season by some hunter’s accounts, doesn’t mean all of the fun is over.
How to pack a deer into a BMW
It’s amazing what you can squeeze into a compact car when you really need to. Just try going 140 mph like this guy did.
My son’s first buck!
They say Thomas Edison tried thousands of times before hitting the right combination that would ultimately prove successful results. So when my son Drake and I left for the woods today at 5:50 am, it would be his fourth year trying to harvest a whitetail deer, and by all rights, seemed like the thousandth time.
As fate would have it, our first year was plagued with other hunters driving around with 4 wheelers at 7:30 am thus ruining our chances to score. The second and third day of that season was more of the same, so we wrote that off as a bummer. The next year, we struggled through a miserably hot weekend youth hunt in where we were actually being hunted by mosquitoes and other non desirables. The following year, we found out 1 day before the season started that we lost our hunting spot, so those hopes went out the window. From then on, we bow hunted together but between his wrestling practice and school, the times were very short and far between. It became common for his friends to ask him if his dad had gotten anything this year rather than if Drake got anything this year.
That changed today.
In the stand at 6: 05, the morning as most of you know, was perfectly quiet. We had a light breeze in our face which is why we set up where we did. We also had a monster buck rub in front of us that we kept an eye on for 2 weeks. We both decided to sit in a double stand today as I wasn’t going to shoot but rather just help with using my eyes. It gave us a chance to keep up with our dad and lad time, if you know what I mean. About 30 to 40 minutes later, Drake said “Dad, I hear something over to my right”. I listened closely and I also could hear something moving. I said “Drake, that’s a deer, get your safety off and your gun in position”. Ten seconds later, Drake said “Dad, I can’t see it, can you”? About that time I could see him moving to my left and noticed his rack. I said back to him “Drake, it’s a big buck”! Soon after, Drake saw the rack as the buck was walking directly at us and not giving him a decent shot. The buck slows down and lifts his head straight up at us trying to figure out what we were. It was at that time I was thinking “My poor son, we’ve got about 2 seconds before he bolts, he has an incredible amount of pressure on him as there is a big buck 30 yards out and this buck is not giving him a decent shot”. There was about a 3” envelope at 30 yards in which he could hit and kill this buck, if not, his chances hunting into a 5th year for a deer were looking all too good. With the pressure on and the buck quartering head-on I say “Take him, take him”!
The buck folds in his tracks, almost 10 feet from the very rub he has been tending for the last 2 weeks. The curse has been broken with a decent 140 class 8 pointer. Not bad for a first deer ever.
Our only hopes were going into the woods today, not scoring on the biggest and the best, but rather just scoring. I couldn’t be any happier today as my boy and I shared a moment that will stay in his memory (and mine) for ever. It’s not just about the buck, it’s about the time we had. From there, it was off to breakfast!