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David Sparks Ph.d Hunting the rut
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Sportsman's Spotlight
Date: November 09, 2017

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Often referred to as America’s deer, we are going to hear from Field and Stream’s chief editor Colin Kearns that the best time to hunt them is in the rut.

Check out 50 expert tips for hunting every phase of the breeding season (including 2017’s must-hunt dates), plus what you can expect to see once you’re there. This guide has practical pointers you can use every day from now until December, like what body language to look for in bucks, when to head to the water, and the perfect day to set up that doe decoy.

Expert Tips:

1.Hunt the Bullies

“It’s time to go after the most aggressive deer. Identify them either by direct observation or via trail camera. Bully bucks will posture at other bucks, won’t give up prime feeding spots to them, and often move during daylight. I’ll set up on the edge of thick cover that I know an aggressive buck is using. Then I work a grunt call that sounds like a young buck tending a doe. I’ve killed several dandies that came charging to this call.”

—Grant Woods, whitetail biologist, GrowingDeer.TV

2. Reap the Harvest

“Our corn harvest often coincides with this period, and when the combines come out, bucks that have been living in cornfields are forced to use other cover. We hunt woodlots, creekbottoms, and other thick cover close to the corn. And we sit all day. This works well during the pheasant opener too.”

—Tim Clark, Kansas outfitter, Reddog Outfitters

3. Get the Big Picture

As bucks seek does, their entry points into fields become less predictable. To keep closer tabs, back your cameras off specific trails, and instead watch the whole field or plot in time-lapse mode.

—S.B.

4. Go Mobile

“The late pre-rut is when a mostly nocturnal buck will start moving in daylight, but you have only a handful of days to kill him in his core area. So I place cellular trail cams, like the Moul­trie Mobile, on active scrapes, and when I start getting daytime pics, I move in immediately and hunt.”

—Steve Stoltz, pro staffer, ­Mossy Oak

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