By Lynn Burkhead, For The Herald Democrat
With Thanksgiving 2022 hitting the calendar, much of Texomaland is in peak whitetail rutting.
This means that many deer hunters from the area will find their way to a stand of trees once the annual Turkey Day meal has been eaten and some quality family time has been spent.
And as these local deer hunters head towards the forest today and over the weekend, hopefully such trips will bring these hunters to places similar to what I wrote about a few years ago while writing a story for my job at Outdoor Sportsman Group wrote (www.outdoorchannelplus.com).
During this story writing experience, I interviewed a lucky bow hunter who had just tagged an atypical white-tailed monster. As he related his story, he mentioned that nature’s multi-pronged whim came from a place that had little cover.
“It didn’t look like much,” he confessed as I dutifully took notes for North American Whitetail (www.northamericanwhitetail.com).
As I pondered his words in the days that followed, it dawned on me that such an interview wasn’t the only time I’d heard such sentiments that the peak of the rut is coming over the Red River Valley and elsewhere this fall season.
Because when a big ol’ buck finds a deer to fall in love with out in the deer woods, he often wants to find a piece of isolated cover, and most of the time he wants to do it fairly quickly.
This means that sometimes it pays for a deer hunter to focus on small pieces of wood and cover, even if they really don’t look like much.
But don’t take my word for it. Instead, take the words of Realtree Outdoors TV veteran David Blanton, one of the most successful deer hunters of the past 30+ years with dozens of big bucks from across North America on his wall.
When I visited him a few years ago during the Bass Pro Shops Fall Hunting Classic, I asked him for his top rutting tips for a story I wrote in mid-November about deer hunting success.
When I asked Blanton if he had a favorite November rut story, he thought for a moment and said yes, yes he did. Then he laughed and remembered that the deer hunting story was kind of humorous and difficult to make into a good TV episode.
More on that in a moment.
Strange as it may seem, Blanton told me this fall afternoon at BPS in Grapevine that he believes that during the peak of the rut, one of the best ways to hunt a dominant alpha buck is to find the areas on the property They hunt where deer rarely go.
“During the rut, large mature bucks will take the hind in heat and cut her out of the herd,” Blanton said.
“He will physically force them to go to an area away from the deer herd. That’s something I’ve seen in Montana, the Dakotas, and Canada. I’m sure it happens in other places too.”
Such behavior actually prompted Blanton to retrieve the aforementioned famous “Blue Jean” TV buck, a large whitetail featured in a previous “Realtree Monster Bucks” video, from an area where few, if any, deer were seen by hunters.
“It was November 14th and the rut was really underway up there,” Blanton recalled of his hunt in Canada. “At noon a guy came back to camp and said he saw a buck chasing a hot hind into several hundred acres of bushland.”
An impromptu game drive was quickly organized and Blanton was soon in position – no less in blue jeans and a sweatshirt.
Did it work? Blanton’s taxidermy reckoning proved it when the buck suddenly emerged from the bushes and chased a rutting deer.
After Blanton fired a successful shot, the monster whitetail was down, his day was up, the TV footage was in the can and Blanton began putting two and two together on what had just happened.
“What really struck me was that this was an area where (the outfitters) hardly ever saw deer,” Blanton said, his face beaming with his trademark Georgia grin.
“This buck had brought the deer to an area where there weren’t many deer so he wouldn’t have to fight to keep them.”
In other words, when the Whitetail Country rut is in full swing, including this weekend here in Texomaland, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the big bucks will be where it looks most promising.
Because when testosterone is coursing through its body, a big buck is probably not thinking properly and just wants to get away… from hunters, from other deer, from everything.
Except for you, of course, because you’ll be waiting where he least expects to see a hunter while he hustles a deer for cover for a woody encounter.
And if you’re there when he tries to slip through the back door of this cover piece, all that’s left to do is get that shot right… and figure out what pose to tell the taxidermist you want a mount in, hanging over the fireplace.
Even if you’re wearing blue jeans when you take this shot.