Hunting during the late part of October and early November is when things can start to really get exciting in the whitetail woods. The rut is starting to get going, bucks are hitting scrapes regularly, temperatures are dropping, and it’s just an all-around exciting time to be hunting whitetails. As we get later into fall, odds are pressure is starting to increase on public land and private for that matter. If you hunt public land, how do you adapt to this, and how can you be successful this time of year? That’s what I’m aiming to cover today.
Get Away from Other People
You’ve probably heard this time and time again, but it’s for good reason. As hunter pressure goes up, more often than not, there’s a pretty simple formula for getting a chance at a mature buck. Less pressure equals more daytime buck movement. The reason that this gets talked about so much is that the easiest part is just that…talk. Sometimes getting away from the pressure can mean hiking back miles into the timber, crossing streams, utilizing a kayak or boat, etc. So, it’s not always as easy as picking a spot on a map and just showing up to hunt.
When you are able to truly get away from the pressure though, that’s when things can start to get exciting. It might mean a 3:00am wake up call or not getting back to the truck until 10:00pm because of your two-mile hike, but it can be well worth putting in that extra work to avoid the pressure. Pressure tends to push deer back into the deepest pockets of woods or areas that aren’t seeing much hunting activity. If you can find these spots, they can actually benefit from pressure as deer tend to congregate in these secluded areas.
A great example of this is when I was hunting a giant piece of public land in SE Minnesota in mid-September with The Hunting Public. They were pushing miles back into the public land, but quickly found out that because there was no pressure yet, bucks were more spread out, and weren’t that far back. They actually thought it would have been easier to get on mature bucks had there already been a lot of pressure because then it would have been easier to identify those hard to get spots that mature bucks seek out.
Don’t Call Too Much
As we move into November, calling becomes more and more popular. In fact, it probably becomes too popular, especially on public land. I always err on the side of less calling when it comes to public land. From what I’ve seen, unless a buck is in the right mood, chances of smacking the antlers together or any other form of blind calling is probably not going to bring a mature buck in. In fact, I think it could actually hurt you. When you’ve got pressured public land with lots of other hunters out there calling all of the time, bucks start to catch on. When it comes to calling on public land, I usually only do it when I can see a buck. I normally start with a soft grunt and then will gauge his reaction. If he’s seeming receptive, I’ll get more aggressive, and if he isn’t receptive, I might try a snort wheeze, but if there continues to be no positive reaction, I’ll stop. Just remember that when it comes to pressured public land, calling isn’t always the answer.
RELATED: How and When to Call to Whitetails
Don’t Be Afraid To Hunt Multiple Spots
When it comes to public land, things on a daily and yearly basis. One spot might get hunted hard one year, but go untouched the next. Deer are adapting to pressure every year, so just because you have a great spot one year, doesn’t mean it’s always going to be good. A great tactic for public land hunting is to throw a stand on your back, go scouting, and when you find the hot sign, set up. If you don’t see what you’re looking for after a hunt or two, continue to move around until you find an area that is producing buck movement. This can be a great way to attack public land and it forces you to hunt different areas.
Read More: The Hang and Hunt Advantage
Hunting public land is never an easy feat, but there are always opportunities for good hunts during the rut. As pressure increases throughout most of the public land, finding pockets of unpressured property can yield some great encounters. If you haven’t been having success yet this year, don’t let it deter you!