The rut in the North Country is about to become a memory for 2013. The last does are being bred and bucks are beginning to think more about eating than breeding. I know. I spent the past several days hunting Montana’s closing hours of the season with Perkins Outfitters.
In camp with me were a couple of diehard hunters from Mississippi, Win Cadenhead and Jason Cotton. They had lofty goals of tagging trophy mule deer, whereas I was hunting with my son, Cole, and we were out for a fun Thanksgiving break. Neither group was disappointed.
Win and Jason teamed up with owner Bill Perkins to put on the miles and cover as much country as possible to Black-Friday shop for a mature muley. The night we arrived in camp, Win tumbled a jumbo mule deer and it was the day before Thanksgiving. Traditionally, the deer rut is winding down right about then, but the Mississippi hunters discovered a herd of muleys that were deep in love and not paying attention to the long stalk taking place in the sagebrush backdrop. Bill finally moved Win into 200 yards of the big buck and the rest is history. Jason was still on the hunt and Cole and I were also up to bat.
To ensure we would have plenty of opportunity, Bill and I mapped out a plan to still-hunt and rattle in the mornings. After lunch, we’d watch nearby fields to see if bucks were pounding calories and possibly sniffing for one last date. With the rut waning, I wasn’t sure rattling would work, but the bucks proved me wrong. Cole was my designated rattler and rattled in his first bucks ever with his solo performance. Unfortunately, we weren’t seeing the caliber of buck we hoped to discover on the hunt so we moved to Plan B. We’d watch the fields.
This option also proved to be exciting as dozens of deer hit the fields to gorge themselves and take a minute or two to look for one last date. Halfway through the hunt, Cole and I were debating about two different bucks and the clean 5×5 of the group helped us solve our shooting dilemma. He broke free from feeding nearly 400 yards away to rush near us and posture parallel to a younger buck. It gave me the shot I needed at less than 200 yards and I couldn’t have asked any more of the Hornady help.
If you have any hunting left in the next week, consider a similar plan as I employed in Montana. Get aggressive and try to work calls on any bucks you encounter, but also consider spending half of the day watching prime food as bucks bulk up after a long and arduous rut. The rut is almost over, but it’s not totally gone for the year. You might be able to squeeze one more buck out of it like I did. Good luck!