By Will Allen
Belly up to just about any tavern in deer hunting territory and you’re bound to hear some real whoppers. Everybody seems to have a story and most of them have devolved that story into a bogus theory about deer. Here are a few common deer hunting myths along with the truth behind each one of them.
Myth: A cold snap triggers the rut.
This is a bunch of hooey. The rut occurs at about the same time every year despite what the thermometer reads. Dr. Grant Woods and many other biologists have studied the reproductive organs of does killed during late season hunts and have found that most of fetuses in these deer were conceived in a short window of about three or four days year in and year out. It is true that daytime deer activity diminishes when temperatures are warm. But bucks are still rutting when it is warm, they just move at night.
Myth: Big bucks are the only ones that breed does.
If this was the truth, only a few does would get bred each year. A buck usually locks down for 24 hours or more when breeding a doe. While some does come into estrus a little earlier or a little later than others, most are ready to breed at about the same time. This means during peak breeding times there are plenty of does to go around for all the bucks in a given area.
Myth: Calling only works during the rut.
I’m not even sure the rut is the best time to call. Bucks are busy establishing dominance during pre-rut. A challenge grunt, snort-wheeze, or rattling sequence can be effective at this time. I’ve often called at one buck only to gain the attention of one or more other bucks during pre-rut. I usually tone it down during post rut. Soft grunts and doe & fawn bleats are usually the way to go. You want to project security with your calling post rut. Most bucks have no interest in a fight once most of the breeding is done.
Myth: Scents don’t work.
The truth is scents don’t work all the time. However, scents can be the difference between seeing a deer at 75 yards and having one in range. I’ve seen good results with products like The Buck Bomb. However, my favorite tactic is using a drag line. There are a few well established buck trails on one of my favorite public land hunting spots. But you can’t get a stand on one of them without getting winded most of the time. This sets up for a great drag line opportunity. I’ll start a drag line to my stand site. The scent naturally flows to a buck bedding area which often gets them on their feet if the conditions are right. When they hit the scent trail they leave the established trail toward my stand. Without the scent, they would likely continue the path they were on. Does it work every time? No. It works enough to make it worth the effort. Nothing in hunting works every time.
Myth: You can’t kill a big buck during a full moon.
It is harder to kill a big buck when the full moon shines. Deer, especially mature bucks, will typically go completely nocturnal during a full moon period. Bucks will get on their feet a little earlier during overcast, cool conditions regardless of the moon phase. Also, peak rut is peak rut. Don’t let the moon keep you out of your tree stand during the best time of the year. If you have time limitations, try to plan your hunts when the moon is mostly dark. But your odds of killing a deer go up based on hours in the woods, no matter what the moon is doing.