Outdoors column: Bowhunting primetime bucks

by Steve Carney
Contributing Columnist

I just love the period of late October into early November as these few weeks are the best time to be in the woods to waylay a whitetail buck. This writer has been very fortunate to have taken a couple of does for the freezer already this season and now I am concentrating on my Minnesota buck. We are now entering crunch time as the bucks become very active and on their feet. Here are some tips to increase your odds.

This is a prime time of the year to head out into the woods for bow hunting.

Ghost bucks
This is my term for those nice bucks that all of a sudden show up this time of the fall and you didn’t really know they existed. Many mature bucks tend to maintain a nocturnal or nighttime profile most of the season but tend to lose their caution when the breeding season hits. These ghost bucks also have a tendency to roam vast areas of property meaning just because you are on a so-so piece of land doesn’t mean anything at this time of the year. These ghost bucks can appear at any time and any place.

In the stand
During most of the bow season I tend to hunt on evenings that are weather friendly and pick and choose my times accordingly. Now as we are in the hot period of late October and early November I climb into my tree stands as often as possible. This means rain or shine, high winds or low winds I try and rack up as many hours as possible. This short period is the one time of the fall hunting season where the more hours you log on stand the better your chances at both bucks and does. The breeding period at this time means you can throw all your predispositions out the window because these deer are now at their most unpredictable behavior of the year.

I am really not a believer in hunting mornings for a couple of reasons. First off, you tend to blow out the area coming in during the dark morning hours and this often alerts every deer on the property. They are often on their feet during pre-dawn and you have a very good chance at bumping them on the way to your stand. If you bump a buck during this time of the morning, chances are he will relocate and not use the area for weeks. They know what you are up to at this time of the morning.

Evening on the other hand is normally the best time to be in a stand. Most central Minnesota deer start moving around 30 minutes before dark giving you plenty of time to slip in undetected a couple of hours before dusk. At this time of the fall the winds usually start to abate around late afternoon giving the deer a windless evening to make their moves.

We have been plagued with abnormally warm weather so far this bow season which has hampered things overall. Deer tend to stay bedded during warm spells. Nothing gets them up and moving like cold weather. The best scenario is cold weather in concert with the whitetail rut or breeding season.

With a little luck we will get our wish as head into the best time of the fall to be a bowhunter.

Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.

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