My Best Kept Deer Hunting Secret

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Robert Hoague
Bowhunting.net

Looking back, I could not thank enough the men from the Archery Club that took me and my high school buddies Tommy Denson and Hugh Carroll bowhunting for whitetail deer with them for our first, and many more deerhunts. They sure opened my eyes to something that became a life long heartfelt passion.

I hung on every word as they freely gave us their advice. I knew nothing about deer. And to me, they knew it all.

As the years passed I met lots of deerhunters who also had plenty of advice and information. All the while, I noticed some things that happened in the deer woods that were different than what I’d heard about. And, noticing that, I started using what I saw and learned, more often than what I’d been told.

In the mid 80’s I figured I had put things together pretty good and was a knowledgeable deer hunter (that hunted exclusively with my bow and arrow). Then, in 1987 I made a casual decision that turned out to be pivotal for what I knew about deer and deer hunting with a bow. I bowhunted the same area I’d been hunting for several years … for all of October, November and December.

I learned a lot, but the one thing that struck me most was that much of the information many hunters had shared with me, to help me out, was kind of like “old hunters tales.” Many things were either incorrect or incomplete snapshots of a particular deer activity.

Nobody had tried to mislead me. I want you to know that, every single person was being helpful and I totally appreciated it. That said, one common thread stretched through their deer and bowhunting info. They were weekend hunters and sometimes they hunted for several days of their vacation time. Their information came from other hunters … and their own totally random experiences.

Now to sum this up short and sweet, after hunting deer every day for 3 months, I was reading out of a very different book of deer  knowledge. And what I’m gonna talk about here is my discovery of the 2nd rut and what I’ve learned about it.

What Is The 2nd Rut?

Every deerhunter knows about the “whitetail Peak Rut”. Depending on how far north or south you live it can be in November or December and in far south Texas in January. Not all the does will be bred during that rut. So the un-bred does will come back into estrus in 24 to 28 days. This second estrus cycle is called the Second Rut.

Which Deer Are Involved In The 2nd Rut?

The does that were not mated and bred during the initial Rutting period will be in the 2nd Rut.

Obviously the Bucks will participare too, that’s a given. But, in my experience, there is something quite different about the bucks involved in the 2nd Rut. (I’ll come back to this.)

Ok, TAAA DAAA, I have some big news.

Year’s ago I read an article by a famous deer hunter. Mr. Famous asked the reders, “How old is a doe when it first come into estrus?” His”expert” answer was “at 2 1/2 years of age.”

He was totally wrong..

Onward … back to Taaa Daaa. , Here is the real story. Some does come into estrus earlier or later than the Peak Rut. So some fawns are dropped as early as the April wild turkey seasons. (The whitetail gestation period is 6 1/2 months.)

Some of the early fawns will be 6 or 7 months old in December. And many of them will come into estrus.

So the number of does that are in the deer woods during the 2nd Rut is larger than just the un-bred does.

Above is a early born fawn doe in estrus with the mature buck that stayed with her for at least the 2 days that I saw them together during the last week of December.

The way I see it is this:

During the 2nd Rut there are fewer estrus does in the mix than the Peak Rut. But having the unbred adult does added to the mix with the older fawns increases the number of estrus does afield.

The fewer the number of does that are in estrus the smaller your chances are to see one with a buck. However, if there are new does mixed in your chances improve dramatically. And there are new does.

During the 2nd Rut there are also fewer hunters so the pressure is less too. There is less hunter movemt during daylight hours than there was during the rut (when the maximum number of deerhunters were hunting).

In short, when you bowhunt the 2nd Rut you are in a situation where you have an opportunity to harvest a buck, or a doe if you want.

It’s time to talk about bucks.  

In my experience, there are some major differences with buck activity during the 2nd Rut. Lets go into that next…

CONTINUED…

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