Rut Realities | Deer Hunting
It's November, and you know what that means in the world of whitetail deer hunting. The famed whitetail rut should be in full swing across a large portion of the United States. As deer traverse through their annual breeding season, those of us who love to hunt them follow along with high anticipation. If you're going to get the job done and fill a deer tag, this is undoubtedly one of the best times to do it.
We have been hunting hard for several weeks here in the state of Ohio. Pre-rut signs began to appear during the final days of October, and that is like a starting gun telling you to log more hours in the stand. You know that when the calendar flips to November, it's time to dedicate all of your free time and maybe a little more to hitting the field. You just never know what could stroll past your stand at any given moment, and that's the true beauty of hunting the rut and the month of November in general.
The endless possibilities of November are amazing, but the reality of the rut can be quite different than the fantasized versions of it that dance in our heads 11 months of the year. I suppose that it just depends on who you ask and where you hunt. The guy sitting behind a 200-inch buck on your Facebook feed certainly is not complaining, but I think we need to discuss some rut realities for the rest of us.
November is my favorite month of the entire year, but I know it's not a magical elixir that brings deer hunting glory. In other words, I know that it's far from a slam-dunk just because the rut has arrived. Like most everything else in our world, the rut comes with pros and cons. It also arrives differently each and every season. Heck, it literally changes by the day, hour and even the minute. Not to mention the wild fluctuations in rutting activity that can be observed from region to region. Fluctuations that can produce insane activity at one spot and nothing at another in the same exact county. I see the whitetail rut as a very fluid and ever-changing event, and that makes it pretty tricky to analyze and hunt. A roll of the dice in the deer hunting world.
If you would have asked me how the 2019 rut was coming along back on October 26th, I would have told you to strap in and get ready. I grunted in several young bucks that clearly looked pre-rut ready. Common sense would only suggest that things would get even better. November should be absolutely insane if I am observing rutting activity in late October. I guess counting on common sense in the world of deer hunting is where I probably went wrong. I forgot just how much of a wild-card the rut truly is.
As I pen this post to you on November 10th, my last four hunts have been absolute trash. Those kind of discouraging hunts that make you shake your head and question everything in your game-plan. As if the physical hunts weren't bad enough, my trail camera results may be even worse. Even if you aren't seeing a parade of giant bucks from your stand, you count on some decent trail camera results in November. Nope.
I have a steady stream of spike bucks and maybe an occasional basket-rack. Even doe activity has seemingly dried up.
But this is November- the rut! I should be seeing nothing but deer movement from my stand, heart-pounding encounters with rut-crazed bucks and trail camera results showing monsters abound. Well, that's the way the rut plays out in my head. The way the rut plays out in reality is much different. Just like everything else, the rut has its peaks and valleys. You can be in the chips one day and in the dumps on the next. I guess that is just how it goes when you decide to center your life on the movements of wild animals.
The point of this post is simply to illustrate the difference between fantasy and reality. Now, I'm not here to rain on parades or sulk in the misery of slow hunting. As I mentioned above, you can jump back and forth between fantasy and reality during the rut. Things can change in a matter of minutes, and I guess this is where the real take-home point kicks in.
Just keep hunting and realize that the odds can change in your favor at any given second. If you fold and decide to stay at home to watch football, the odds can never break in your favor. That's something I have to consistently remind myself of.
It's extremely easy to get discouraged these days. You open up any social media platform and you see what feels like every hunter you know posing behind a trophy deer. Then you convince yourself that they live on some fantasy island that you could never be lucky enough to hunt. In reality, they just made the decision to be in the field and things broke in their favor.
That could be any one of us if we simply keep hunting hard.