Last Saturday my 61 year old butt was sitting high up in a tree on a wind chilled afternoon. The time was about 3 pm. After a few hours in the quiet woods the mind plays tricks. What looked like a clump of grass in the cloudy period looks more and more like a deer when the sun pops out.
The few leaves left up in nearby trees move with the wind as does tall gross below. In the distance over the top of a ridge there is movement. Leaves I thought. White leaves? Leaves moving when the others are not? Another treestand hallucination? Then there's more movement, big brown movement between the trees. Could be a doe. Lifting my crossbow to peer through the scope shows it is a good size doe. Those white leaves? They are now visible as a rack of antlers. No hallucination.
Even through the scope I could not count the points but they are thick enough to see about 75 yards away through the trees. The doe gets up and walks in a large circle. The buck follows her close behind, stops and shakes his rack. After the circle is completed she disappears behind the ridge and he does as well. He sits high enough in the ridge that his rack is still sticking out. Occasionally he shakes it. Are they are bedding down? It is about 4pm, about 1/2 hour before the official sunset. They get up and proceed to circle in the same fashion. This goes on about three times as I watch.
My hope was they would get up and come out to play after sunset when it would be light enough to get a shot IF they proceeded down the path where I sat 20 feet in the air. As darkness settles in prohibiting a clean shot I disembark the tree and head to the Jeep. But not before I strap my trail cam to a nearby tree pointing in their direction. More days and more chances will follow but this is the best evidence of the full rut period I have seen this season.
The tree in the center is one of my chosen stand trees. You can see the ladder. Behind in the distance is the ridge where the activity Saturday occurred. On the left is the buck I believe is the dominant buck holding this territory for the time being. When I showed this image to a customer/friend with a lot more experience monitoring whitetail behavior in the wild than I he pointed out the stance and appearance of this buck, the position of his tail and the way his hair is standing up on his back and his hindquarters. He believes this buck is either challenging or being challenged by another buck standing out of camera view. The one thing that screamed at me about this image is the time stamp. It reads 8:56am. Only during rut does a buck like this show up during daylight hours out in the open. And…below my tree stand about 20 yard away (said through my best Ted Nugent shit-eating grin)
Another behavior that happens during rut is bucks battle for their territory and over their chosen mate/harem. He may be the buck I watched late Saturday or the other buck was the one. It doesn't matter to me because if he is still hanging around when I am sitting in that tree and shows that nice white rack he's going down.
Here is an enhanced and enlarged view from another image. This buck appears to be an eight point typical, typical meaning antlers are evenly sized and spaced on both sides. The rack is also good and thick meaning he is probably three years old.
Hope to see him this weekend as the firearm season opens. Hope to show some extreme close-ups here on the blog too. Fingers crossed.