My whole life growing up I watched Jackie Bushman and Bill Jordan show the world what it was like to hunt the rut in Texas. I can remember sitting in front of the TV with a stick of beef jerky just wishing that it was November already and that the rut would be here soon.
At that point in time all I thought I needed to kill the biggest buck in the county was my Ruger #1 .243 and a set of old rattling horns my dad had put together when he was a teenager. Year after year I set on the edge of that warped 2×4 in the top of an ancient pecan tree on the Sabinal River bank in Utopia, TX. Every twenty minutes from sun up until lunch time I would clank that set of horns together just hoping that a muy grande would appear out of nowhere to let my single shot Ruger put Thanksgiving venison on the table and another Hill Country whitetail on the wall. For years I thought this was the only time of the year to bag the big ones and from what I had experienced…it was.
In late 2005 I was introduced to my first trail camera and decided to set it up by my creek bed feeder on a small plot of land in the Hill Country. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I had been missing a huge opportunity for a long, long time. All these big bucks that I was chasing in late November were showing up in front of my camera like clockwork in October and the first part of November. Even better, they were all fat and didn’t have broken tines! What had I been doing all these years?
During the past seven years through guiding and hunting I have come to realize that a lot of hunters get “Rut Crazed” and miss out on some of the best big buck opportunities each year. To me, hunting the rut is like playing the lottery, whereas hunting the early season is like investing into a proven stock. Yes, when the lottery hits it usually hits big but if you are in a great stock you should see a good return year after year.
If you haven’t started yet, try this bit of advice and see where it takes you this year:
- Set up a couple feeders or food plots on good natural funnels or well traveled trails
- Set out game cameras at each location *It is imperative that the time and date is accurate on your cameras.
- Set up a blind so the deer can get used to it in a reasonable amount of time
- Find a great mature buck that you would consider a trophy
- Make a log of the times he is coming into your locations each day
- Mark the distances he is traveling in front of your blind
Try these tips and most important of all, try to get out there on opening day before any pressure begins in your area. If done correctly you should have a great picture and story to post up either October 1st or November 5th and during the rut you will be able to afford to play the “lottery” because you’ve already got money in the bank!