We’ve all seen this scenario in the movies. A couple meet and are in their motel room and they want some privacy so they hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on their door and slam it shut. OK maybe we’ve all been guilty of that ourselves in our life. But when it comes to intimacy we all want some privacy. Right?
So do deer. At least a whitetail buck does I promise you. When a buck deer finally has discovered the current love of his life - in this case a hot doe - the last thing he wants is to be fighting with another buck while he’s trying to do his business at hand. Not all, but most bucks when they are with a hot doe will do everything they can to get that doe away from all other deer so he can be undisturbed for the next two or three days. Keep that in mind this coming rut season in your area.
Us old timers who have hunted deer for more than 30 - 40 years say that during this time period the bucks are in ‘Lock Down Mode’. And what ‘lock down mode’ really means is; the buck and doe have disappeared for the time being. But where have they gone?
Here’s the interesting answer to that question; they may still be right there, right under your nose. You just have to find them. Or even better put, you may just have to flush them out. But you can if you’re looking in the right places.
About 20 years ago now I received a letter from a Gerald Albers from Illinois. Inside the letter was a Polaroid picture taken in a garage of a fellow straddling a giant dead whitetail buck. When I say giant, I mean giant. When looking at this picture I was simply stunned at the size of this buck. Since this was a Polaroid shot I didn’t figure it had been doctored in any way. I had never seen a buck like this.
So I picked up the phone and called Mr. Albers.
“Gerald. This is Roger Raglin. I got the picture you sent me,” I began the conversation.
“Oh I’m so glad. That’s the only picture we have of that buck. After you get done looking at it could you send it back?” he ask.
“Well I can do one better than that. I’ll be passing through St. Louis in a few weeks heading up to Wisconsin to bow hunt. How about I bring the photo by and while I’m there I can see the big buck first hand. Would that be OK?” I ask.
Needless to say everything worked out and come mid-September the Albers who lived about an hour or so outside of St. Louis welcomed me into their home. They had just gotten the buck back from the taxidermist and it didn’t take me long to pick him out of the many other bucks they had hanging on the wall. He was the giant buck in the middle.
I’ll just make this short and sweet. Had this buck not had a bunch of stickers and little points coming off around the base of his main beam, as a 10 pointer, he would have outscored the Jordon buck. The Jordon buck is the largest scoring 10 point Boone & Crockett buck in history. His 10 point main frame was larger than the biggest 5 x 5 buck of all time. Wow! I was standing right next to him. I actually put my hands on him. Yes I did.
The Albers were a great deer hunting family and wonderful people. They had taken a number of other really super bucks. They obviously were a well seasoned group of veteran hunters who knew what they were doing when it comes to shooting big mature bucks. So then the story behind taking this magnificent buck had to be special right? I mean they had to have been hunting this buck for years to finally figure out his pattern or finally get lucky enough to outsmart him. Right?
Nope. The story behind this buck was special alright. I respect the Albers so much for telling me the truth I can’t put into words. They did not BS me or try and make up some wild, heart thumping story. They just told it like it was.
’We had been hunting all morning and decided to go back to the truck and get some lunch. Instead of working our way back to the truck through the timber we decided to take a short cut and just walk across an open field. We could actually see the truck from the edge of the timber where we were standing. The easiest walking was along the fence row. About 1⁄2 way across the field we came upon a little patch of tall weeds. It was about the size of the hood of your truck. As we walked around the weeds a doe stood up right next to us. She just stood there startled. Then this buck stood up beside her. We were only about 10 feet from the deer. Gerald said my dad and I just raised our guns and both shot the buck and he fell right there. The doe ran off.’
That was it. One of the greatest bucks of all time was shot in his little bedroom while he was taking care of business. His bedroom made up of a few tall weeds along a fence line in an open field. It happens. It happens more than you think.
Especially during rifle season when I’m hunting any area. I always look around and see if I can spot a little patch of something out away from everything else. I always look for a spot that would give me just enough cover to be alone if I were a deer. Then I go check that spot out. In most instances it’s something where I will have to walk a few hundred yards. So what? That’s nothing compared to the benefits of knocking a big buck down. And believe you me it will be well worth your effort too.
I used to do a lot of hunting with a fellow named Ron Thompson who had a great lease up on the Oklahoma/Kansas border. I have filled my tag several times by just driving up on a hill, spotting a patch of brush out in an open field, walking down to that patch and out bust a buck and doe. I always shoot the buck if he was big enough. Sometimes he was big enough. Sometimes he was not big enough. Sometimes I shot and missed. Sometimes they stood up and just stood there. Sometimes they bolted and ran. But one thing is for sure; they were always out there away from the other deer. They were out there because the buck pushed the doe out there and then kept her there for breeding purposes. Bucks do it everywhere. They do.
Yes sometimes during the rut bucks will take off after a doe and that leads them a mile or several miles away from their home range. That does happen. Sometimes they vanish but they are still there close. You’ve just got to find him. Look in those out of the way places where you’d never really think a deer would be. Yep. A lot of times that’s where Mr. Buck and Mrs. Doe are having their little honeymoon. The ‘do not disturb’ sign is up, so it’s up to you to go take it down.
I was bow hunting in Wisconsin one year. The farm I was hunting was really a good place. There were lots of deer running around but the buck population was slim. I talked with the land owner and he just couldn’t understand where the bucks had gone to.
“They’ve been here. I been seeing them all fall. They got to be here somewhere,” he told me scratching his head.
I believed him. I could see all the fresh sign everywhere. The rut was just beginning. So I quite the hunt and spent a day searching with my thinking cap on. And then I saw it. It hit me. That’s it.
I went to the landowner and said, “I found the bucks.”
Looking at me like I was crazy he said, “OK. Where are they?”
I pointed to a small patch of timber out in the middle of a plowed field where there had been corn earlier, “They’re out there. And they’re over there,” I said pointing across the street at a similar small patch of brush.
These spots were actually about two or three acres each. I really don’t know why they were there. I just know they were really out of the way and where no one, especially a bow hunter, was going to be looking to hunt.
The next morning my camera man and I slipped in there with self-climber tree stands and shimmied up a couple of small trees and before noon I had run an arrow through a nice buck that was pushing a doe around. These little island spots are golden for finding bucks and does who are wanting to be undisturbed for a few days. They’re great honeymoon spots. They’re little out of the way places that whitetail bucks like to use when courting and breeding season takes place. Look for them. When you find one there’s a good chance you’ll find a big buck there too.
Good deer hunting to you my friend!
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