I lost track of exactly how many public land sits I’ve endured thus far this fall, but it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 30. My patience, adjustment of tactics and, most importantly, persistence finally paid off this morning.
The rut is starting to rock in most of the Midwest. I’ve heard varying reports about the level of buck activity in several different locales, but it’s safe to say most hunters are experiencing some level of the rut. With the consistently cold temps in my neck of the woods—the Twin Cities—scrapes and chasing have been obvious indicators that all hell is breaking or about to break loose across the region.
I’ve sat in the woods as much as possible since archery season started in early September, so the rut couldn’t have come fast enough. The rut definitely increases the odds of killing a buck, but it’s an overall better time for hunting on-the-hoof venison of either sex.
For my first 20 sits on some “promising” public land, I never saw an early season deer while on stand. Not a single deer. In fact, I only saw a couple of white flags waving goodbye while walking in and out of my haunts. Talk about a morale bruiser. It wasn’t until I scouted and found a new public piece with a cut corn field that I saw a lot of action. I had undoubtedly found the best food source on the block, and while that’s a plus, the biggest benefit is that there’s minimal human pressure. Where I routinely shared boot tracks with other hunters on the previous public parcel, this new one (knock on wood) has been largely untouched. In my opinion, the single most important factor for great deer hunting is a lack of pressure.
A hard white frost coated the ground this morning and fog crept from swampland as I made haste to get to my public metro honey-hole merely 10 miles from my house. I was late to wake, so it was already light enough to see when I climbed into my stand. That didn’t help my confidence, but it was crushed even more when I saw several deer getting the you-know-what out of Dodge when I approached my chosen tree. However, on a picture-perfect, rut-infused morning like I was experiencing … anything can happen. Meat or antlers, game on. That’s been my motto since the season started because we’re allowed to harvest unlimited antlerless deer in the metro zone—and I’m a voracious carnivore.
Just an hour into my sit, a lone doe approached my setup from across the corn field. Soon, I realized it was actually a solo doe fawn. Damn good eating, I thought. I was sitting alongside a main travel corridor from the corn that crosses an open meadow before transitioning into a bedding area abyss. The deer scoured the brown husks for a quick mouthful of yellow kernels before finally walking directly toward me through a narrow strip of trees—where I was at full draw in the only one straight enough to hold a stand. I loosed a Carbon Express and a Rage Hypodermic didn’t allow her to take another step. The fine whitetail now hangs without its skin from my suburban backyard deck. Time to make meat.
Next time you’re ready to throw in the towel during a frustrating deer season, remember: A deer is in your destiny. Be persistent.