Michael says that across the country, it is widely known that the first week of November can be magical for hunters. Furthermore, based on years of observation, he notes that November 20th - 30th can be especially good for hunters like himself in the Southeast. Based out of Booger Bottom, Georgia, Michael says that they aren’t known for monster bucks like those in the Midwest are. However, over the last few years he has seen a change in the overall deer quality and an increase of 120 to 150 class bucks. He illustrates by talking about the fantastic buck his son just took out of a field, off his farm in Georgia this week. While the deer aren’t breeding yet, Michael notes that they are making mistakes in their pursuit of does, throwing caution to the wind, and ultimately that worked out in his son’s favor.
What makes the rut so interesting is that most hunters center their approach around the peak of the rut, where breeding is at full force. However, Michael reveals that while there is a lot of debate around the topic, he believes that the pre-rut is more productive than the peak. Drawing on years of experience and observation, hunting all over the country, Michael says that once the bucks really start breeding heavily they tend to lock down hard with the does and in turn don’t move a lot and aren’t as visible. In contrast, during the seeking and chasing phases, leading up to breeding, where the bucks are looking for their first opportunity to breed does, they tend to make the biggest mistakes. Michael encourages hunters to listen to biologists and do some research. He says you can learn a lot by looking at gestation and when the deer were typically bred last season. From there, if you work backward 7 to 10 days prior to breeding activity you can bet that is a solid time table to be out hunting – leading up to the frenzy of breeding activity.
Michael then switches gear and talks tactics. When it comes to making and utilizing scrapes he says there isn’t necessarily a right or a wrong way to do so. A deer’s senses, and particularly their sense of smell, is their number one defense mechanism, but also alerts them to opportunity. Making mock scrapes and utilizing scent effectively can be a great way to get trail camera photos of the deer in your area and take an inventory. When it comes to hunting over scrapes and other scent-like setups, Michael says that it can be tough because deer don’t need to walk right in to the site to smell the scent being put out. They can walk around, skirt the outside perimeter and still smell what is happening. This can make hunting over scrapes difficult if you are hoping to bring deer within shooting range consistently.
Hunters have several tools in their arsenal to attract deer – rattling, grunting and calling can be very effective this time of year. Michael says now is the time to use your grunt tubes, snort wheeze, rattling horns and even decoys. Michael says when hunting an area, he isn’t familiar with, he hangs a stand in a double corner where he can see long distances, like looking out over CRP fields or the edges of crop fields. He sits and watches, seeing if he can catch bucks cruising. If he’s able to spot them, even from afar, he notes that the use of grunts, snort wheezes and rattling horns can be effective for bringing them in to your stand. When used in conjunction with a decoy, they can be even more effective.
Be sure to tune in and take notes as Michael Waddell joins The Revolution to talk rut activity and strategy.
Catch Michael Waddell every week on “Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector” Sundays at 10:30 pm ET and “Realtree Road Trips” Thursdays at 9:00 pm ET, both airing on Outdoor Channel. Or, by heading to MyOutdoorTV.
Get out and hunt the rut