American Hunter - December 2012 - 56

placement tough for bowhunters and still
challenging for gun hunters. Do your best
and use your instincts to predict where a
careful old buck is likely to step from cover.
The second challenge of hunting feeding areas is choosing a stand location that
allows you to get out without alerting
any deer in the feeding area. This can be
almost impossible unless you use tricks
like having a buddy push them off with a
vehicle at the end of legal shooting time.
Another option is to find or create spots
where the deer stage before heading out to
larger, more open feeding areas. For me,
that means opening up small feeding areas
in the timber between bedding and feeding areas. I plant them to clover and they
are awesome spots for picking off deer in
daylight. The deer soon drift on through
and are gone by dark or shortly after. You
don't have to have a big budget-you can
make a small plot of a half acre with hand
tools. You can often even do it on properties where you only have permission to
hunt if the opening is already there.
Hunting feeding areas always creates
a dilemma: Hang back or go for broke? It
all depends on how well you've got the
bucks patterned.

Where to Find the Second Peak

Pronounced November rut peaks occur
in most of the northern two-thirds of the
United States and throughout Canada.
Southern states may also see this same
behavior at later dates. Regardless, the
activity peaks are roughly a week before
the peak of breeding and a week after.
Unfortunately, in some areas the
hunting pressure is so heavy during
the rut (usually the second peak) that
natural movement is squelched by the
sheer number of hunters in the woods.
If your state has a lot of firearm hunters
and your general season opens before
or around the middle of November, you
likely won't see the second peak, so using
hunting strategies geared for it will only
result in frustration. In that situation,
hunt entirely based on forced movement
(which doesn't change much from year
to year and has little to do with the rut)
rather than natural movement. Let other
hunters push deer to you.
I realize it is too late to go back and
hunt the first peak again, but it is still
interesting to consider which peak is
better for shooting a mature buck.
Personally, I see the most bucks

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between Nov. - in the states I hunt.
This would apply to any states with a
November peak rut. I've seen this when
hunting in Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois,
Minnesota (whenever their gun season comes in late), Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, Idaho, Iowa and Manitoba. If
you want to see sheer numbers of bucks,
the first peak is your best rut phase and
Nov. - is your week.
In fact, to pin down the date even
tighter, I believe Nov.  (plus or minus
one day) will produce the best single
day of hunting in an average season. Yes,
weather makes a huge difference (cool is
better), but I've taken a number of good
bucks around that day even in warm
conditions. When talking to serious deer
hunters in other states, I often ask them
what the single best day of the season is
where they hunt. It's uncanny how many
times I hear Nov.  or Nov. . That's right
in the heart of the first peak.
While the first peak likely will produce
the most buck sightings, the second peak
may well produce bigger bucks. Not only
have I taken a number of fully mature bucks
during this time, but many of my friends
have encountered the biggest bucks of the

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American Hunter - December 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - December 2012

American Hunter - December 2012 - 1
American Hunter - December 2012 - 2
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