Hunt where you find the does
By DENNIS JENSEN
I was hunting in Maine one November when I met a fellow deer hunter from Vermont. Like me, he had been invited to hunt with a mutual friend.
We struck up a conversation before setting out on the first day and I learned from him that, some years earlier, he had learned something from me.
He told me that something I had written had helped him tag a buck back in Vermont.
It’s nice and really rare to have a fellow deer hunter give you that kind of feedback. But the bottom line is this: He did the work.
His name is Dick Norcott and the Poultney man has accompanied me on several trips to Maine, where we hunt with fellow writer Stu Bristol.
The column in question involved my point of view that goes like this: If you want to find a buck, hunt where the does are.
Over the years, I have been astounded by the number of hunters who complained about how they were seeing lots of does, but couldn’t get their eyes on a buck.
Some of them were downright disgusted. “Hunted all day. Saw nine deer but every one of them was bald.”
Now, there is no way of knowing whether they stuck it out in that place or moved on, hoping to locate a deer with antlers.
Me? If I’m seeing does, I’m going to park my butt there until I stop seeing them.
I learned this lesson more than 25 years ago. I had hunted a tree stand one day and didn’t see a single deer.
The next morning, I decided to hunt in another place, about a quarter-mile away. Still, I had to travel up an old logging trail that passed by the first tree stand. A few inches of snow had fallen and I kept my eyes glued to the ground as I made my way.
In the darkness, I could clearly see the tracks of at least a half-dozen deer that crossed the logging trial and headed right past the old tree stand.
I decided to hunt that stand another morning, hoping that perhaps one of those deer was a doe, going into estrus.
About an hour into daylight, I caught the sight of a buck with his nose right to the ground. He turned, offering me a nice broadside shot at about 30 yards. He was a wide, 4-pointer with no brow tines and dressed out at 135 pounds.
If you read a lot of outdoor writers, you’ll hear about how love-sick bucks are running all over the woods in search of hot does in the middle of November. It’s called the rut and it is probably the most misunderstood time of the year when it comes to deer.
I don’t see many “love-sick, glassy-eyed” bucks in the woods where I hunt. I believe the rut is a little bit more complicated than that. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no way to tell when some buck will throw caution to the wind and expose himself like some pervert in an alley.
The bottom line is this: Bucks seem to have a knack for finding does in November, does that are receptive to breeding. How they find them and when they find them is opening to debate, as far as I’m concerned.
But this much I do know: the bucks will go where the does are found.
So keep it simple: Find the does, have patience, wait it out and there’s a good chance (there are no guarantees, of course) that you’ll be putting your tag around the antlers of a legal buck.