Western Hunting Journal, Premiere Issue whj001_premiere - Page 75

Hunting the Rut With all that’s ever been said about hunting blacktails, hunt- ing during the rut is always the one common theme when it comes to killing a mature buck. In fact, I can’t think of one nice buck I’ve ever killed that wasn’t a rutted-out mess. I’m con- vinced that if weren’t for doe’s coming into heat, every mature blacktail buck would die of old age. The rut usually takes place the last week of most rifle deer seasons, usually late October through early November. A doe in heat is the one thing that makes a buck move in the light of day. I can’t re- member ever glassing or see- ing a mature blacktail buck just out feeding in the open unless a doe was involved. The rut is the one thing that trips up a black- tail and for a very short period it makes him forget about ev- erything that’s kept him alive all these years. They become vulnerable and they make mis- takes. That’s when you need to be on constant watch. I’ve seen some crazy things happen during the rut. This past hunting season I spotted a nice mature 4-point cruising through a cut, an old- er unit with a perfect blend of cover and open ground. He was definitely a shooter. Like me, he was on the hunt. Only he was in pursuit of a doe. He carved up the hillside like a bird dog hot on a scent. He was too far away for me to do anything so I just sat there and enjoyed the show. He zigged and zagged, nose on the ground sometimes retracing his own tracks. It was making me tired just watching him. Suddenly, like a mallard coming out of the cattails, up jumped a smaller 4-point. The bigger buck went into full attack mode and chased it 300 yards down the hill. Both bucks vanished into the thick timbered bottom. Minutes lat- er, thinking the show was over, the bigger buck raced back up the hill in pursuit of a doe. This was like a car wreck; I couldn’t Bucks like this rarely show themselves except for a handful of days during the rut. stop watching. But little did I know it was going to get strang- er. Watching the buck, he froze and without hesitation and took off on a dead run leaving the area immediately. I began glassing assuming another hunter was in the area. Mo- ments later I spotted what put the fear of death into the buck. Standing not 50 yards above where he bolted from stood Goliath. The type of blacktail they put in paintings, he had it all: Width, height, mass and one other thing, a pretty little doe. That single little doe had that whole area abuzz; she had three bucks running around like school boys. Mind you, these were bucks that hadn’t let the sun hit their hides in months. At that point, me and my partner decided to put a hunt on him. It was a long walk and by the time we got to within in range he and the doe were long gone. We knew very well that would probably happen, but we couldn’t walk away without trying. What I witnessed that day is why I hunt these blacktails. The day was a complete success even with a fully intact tag in my pocket. It’s what keeps yo