In many areas mid-September to mid-October is a time of transition, for both the deer and the habitat. As summer rains decrease some food sources become dry and unpalatable to deer, and other food sources (such as nuts berries and agricultural crops) start to ripen, making them more palatable. October is also when temperatures may begin to drop and the wind speed increases, which means the deer may begin to look for core areas more suitable to colder, windier weather.
The result of these seasonal forage availability and weather pattern changes is that the deer may have from one to four seasonal home ranges; spring summer, fall, and winter. In many areas the deer begin to shift from their summer home ranges to their fall home ranges from early September and late October. Sometimes the deer (both bucks and does) will use the same core areas for different seasonal home ranges, but they use different portions of their home ranges for different seasons.
To be successful as a deer hunter you need to find out where the core areas of the deer are during the time frame you are hunting them, what the deer are eating at that time, and determine when and where the preferred foods become available. Since the weather affects both the suitability of daytime core/bedding areas and the availability of preferred forage, you need to scout regularly to determine where the deer spend the day, where they forage at night, and which travel routes they use between those two areas, in both the morning, and in the evening. Then setup accordingly.
The Dispersal Phase
Once this occurs the older bucks will start to become solitary, and begin moving to and/or establishing their fall breeding ranges. Depending on forage availability, whether or not deer use the same core areas in late summer as they use in the fall, and the distance between summer home ranges and fall home ranges, it may take a week or more for the bucks to move onto and establish their fall breeding ranges. When the bucks do move to different areas, be prepared to go looking for them.
If the deer in your area regularly breed from early to late November, the buck groups often begin to breakup between mid-September and mid-October. In many areas above the 40th parallel the bucks will be on their fall breeding ranges two to three weeks before the peak of the rut. If you want to know when peak breeding occurs in the area you hunt check the Rut Dates Chart on my web site at www.TRMichels.com.
Pre-Primary Breeding / Scraping Phase
Pre-Primary Breeding / Scraping Phase Hunting Techniques
I am basically using the scent to position the buck for a clear shot. The scent also gives me a chance to bring in any other bucks in the area. I hang up one or two felt pads with buck urine or doe estrous scent, but I don't leave them out when I'm not there. If a buck comes to doe scent and doesn't find a doe it probably won't fall for it again. By taking the scent out every day you don't educate the buck.
You can also hunt near a scrape, or make your own scrape. I make a mock a scrape with the heel of my boot, rattling racks, or a stick, under an overhanging branch. I pour forehead scent on the branch and tarsal scent in the scrape. Then I hang an Ultimate Scrape Dripper with Golden Estrus or Active Scrape from Wildlife Research Center over the scrape, or near my stand in a shooting lane. This combination of buck infringement scents and doe in heat attract the buck out of the urge to exert dominance or to breed.
If you don't know exactly where the buck's bedding area is you can setup on the rub route at the first scrape the buck makes as it comes out of its core bedding area by using this same techniques. If you don't know where the core area is you can setup near a staging area or food source that the does are using. When I am not setup along on a rub route or near a scrape I use several film canisters spread about 10 yard apart to attract the buck over a wider area. If you know the buck is traveling after sunrise in the morning you can use this same technique on the rub route back to his bedding area.
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