Why are the last week of October and first week of November so important to harvesting a patterned mature whitetail?
We have already spent months putting out trail cameras, setting up tree stands, and planning on harvesting that mature whitetail. A lot of us become a little less aggressive than we should for the very reason that we have already put in so much time. Yet with the impending rut ready to kick off, all of our data is about to become worthless. That means we need to act now.
The rut means that we will see a very abrupt change to behavior for both mature whitetail and young bucks. As an unpredictable run of testosterone, we can pretty much kiss patterning goodbye. That’s why many hunt using does as live bait in hopes that a cruising mature whitetail will come looking for the next doe in heat.
The good news is that mature whitetail show their most vulnerable days of patterned behavior in these last couple weeks leading up to the rut. They will lay down rub lines and scrapes more aggressively than any other time of the season. More importantly, they will show themselves a little more in daylight before the chaos of the rut.
There is no better time to get out there.
Some of us might be hesitant to get out there and hunt aggressively out of fear of bumping our mature whitetail. But there is no better time to do so. Due to a spike in testosterone, they will not be thinking as clearly and will more greatly tolerate any disruption of the area. There is not much that will bump them from the rut.
Now is the time to call in sick, use vacation time, and get up in our tree as much as possible. These are the days when that mature whitetail will come out ten minutes earlier to give us the shot we have planned on for so long. The sad truth is that once the rut comes, this buck will probably abandon the area. And when it comes to suburban environments, he may not return for us to use our late season tactics on him.
We need to push our stands closer. Take the Hail Mary approach as the first days of November come to pass. We need to be bold enough to orchestrate a deer drive. Whether we like it or not, this mature whitetail is about to abandon us and leave all our pre-season work in the dust.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.