COLUMN: Next 10 days the best time for hunters here

Flathead Outdoors

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For hunters, the remaining 10 days is our dream season. Ten days of Super Bowl hunting!

The bucks are in rut, we have some tracking snow and the colder weather requires deer to feed longer. The buck harvest should pick up as we head into the final days of the season.

Let me assure you there are some dandy bucks out there. Weíve had two or three easy winters, so many bucks have survived to live another year and grow bigger. If you havenít seen a monster yet, keep looking ó they are out there.

I recently read a good hunting article by an experienced outdoor writer. I believe he was hunting in Iowa. He was a dedicated hunter who used numerous game cameras to help him locate the biggest bucks in his hunting territory. Each year he harvested a nice buck, but nothing that came even close to approaching a Boone and Crocket record-book buck. He was convinced that local hunting pressure didnít allow bucks to become really old and really big.

Then one day, as he was sitting in his deer stand, he gets an email from a friend about a monster buck that was killed just a couple of miles down the road from where he was hunting. Ya sure, probably just more Internet garbage. After his evening hunt, he called his friend to check on this so-called monster buck. The friend said it was true and the deer could be seen at a nearby location. So the writer drives to the location and sees the biggest buck of his life.

This buck not only placed in the record book, but was one of the biggest bucks ever taken. Wow! And it was shot just a couple of miles from where the writer was hunting. After years of hunting this area and using numerous game cameras to locate bucks, no one had ever seen this monster buck until it was shot.

So have faith. There are some big deer out there. But they didnít become old and big by being dumb.† How do you outsmart them? The most important step to bag a monster buck is to go hunting. You wonít get your big buck by just wishing for one. The second basic rule is to hunt early and late in the day. Many times, old bucks stay hidden most of the day, moving only at night.

So hunt those bucks by finding the areas where does are feeding. If you find the does, bucks will eventually show up during the rut. I like to watch the edge of some thick hiding cover that borders a semi-open feeding area. My hope is that a normally nocturnal buck just canít quite wait until full dark. So he will sneak out of his thick hiding cover a little early to find a hot doe. Thatís when you take him. During the rut, whitetail bucks can be both very smart and very dumb.

I also use my set of rattling horns to help entice bucks to come to me. I can assure you that my antler rattling doesnít work all of the time. If fact, most times it doesnít seem to help. I would say that I attract in a buck about one time out of 10 when I am rattling. But it never hurts to try. On three occasions, I have rattled in multiple bucks at one time. †

Once I was hiking back to my truck at dusk. I decide to rest on a knoll. As I sat on a log, I dug out my rattling antlers and rattled for about 20 seconds. Less than two minutes later a nice fat forked-horn buck comes into view, heading straight for me. He comes within 50 feet, but doesnít notice me because I am motionless. I contemplate shooting the small buck, Then I notice that he keeps looking off to my right. I slowly turn my head to the right and see a nice four-by-four buck heading to my rattle. He chases off the two-point. A few seconds later the big buck is dead. What a thrilling experience. †

Deer do not have keen eyesight. But they do have an incredible ability to see motion. If you are rattling, try to sit in some brush to help disguise you and your movement. Stay as still as you can.

What I do is a combination of still hunting, standing and rattling. I find good deer habitat where I watch and rattle for an hour. If I have no luck, I quietly still hunt to another vantage point to sit and rattle for another hour. Patience, stealth and determination will eventually pay off.

Next to my rifle, my most important piece of hunting gear is one of those little squeeze bottles of powder that lets me test the wind. There is absolutely no such thing as still air. Currents are always moving air. Deer have an incredible sense of smell, so you must position yourself so the deer will be coming with the wind or have a cross wind. Always face into the wind. Deer wonít come from your back.

So get out there, have fun and maybe you will put some meat in the freezer and a trophy on the wall.††

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