How To Succesfully Hunt Midday Bucks During The Rut

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How To Succesfully Hunt Midday Bucks During The Rut

Photo courtesy of Tom Tietz

Boyd Mathes didn’t care one lick that it was noon on Nov. 20, 2010. He was heading out to hunt on his southeast Iowa farm. The Buck Hollow Sports archery shop owner and BowTech pro-staffer had been seeing enough activity the past few days that he was convinced deer would be on their feet regardless of the hour.

Mathes posted in his favorite midday bucks treestand, which sits at the end of a finger of woods sticking out into a huge soybean field. With the field in front of him and open timber behind, he could see a long way.

“At this time of year, in the middle of the day, I want to be able to see as much as possible,” Mathes said. “Bucks could be anywhere and I don’t want to miss them.”

As it turned out, Mathes didn’t need to see very far. Nor did he have to wait long. The ground was as dry as a bone and the leaves as crisp as fresh potato chips, and he never heard the 150-inch 10-pointer until it showed up right underneath him – 15 minutes after he climbed on stand.

At 8 yards, the bowshot was a “gimme.” The middle of the day had coughed up yet another bruiser buck for Mathes.

“There are certain times of the year when I absolutely love to be out hunting in the middle of the day,” he said. “When everybody else is back home eating lunch or taking a nap, I’m in my stand.”

Conventional hunting wisdom says early morning and late afternoon are the best times to hunt whitetails. Conversely, the middle of the day – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – is supposed to be dead. Deer should be bedded until it’s time for the evening feed.

True enough, deer follow that schedule for much of the year. But there is about a month-long period when rutting activity makes midday as good a time as any to tag a buck. Also, regardless of the rut, any time your state’s firearms season is in, you’ll want to be on-stand from 11-2.

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CHANGING PRIORITIES

During the summer months and early fall, when a buck is focused primarily on food and water, he’ll generally be most active during daylight hours early in the morning and late in the afternoon. If he’s got a few hunting seasons under his belt, he might not venture out of his secure bedding area at all after the sun comes up or before it sinks below the horizon.

When his testosterone starts to rule his actions and does begin to come into estrus – typically beginning in late October across the northern half of the U.S. and in Canada, and progressively later as you head south – a buck’s going to be prowling for love, regardless of the time of day.

“As October starts winding down, I’ll stay in the stand a little later in the morning, just to see if there are midday bucks up on their feet,” said Hunter’s Specialties pro Matt Morrett. “At some point, I’ll start seeing them at 11 and 12 o’clock. That’s when I’ll keep sitting through the middle part of the day, because you never know when a really good deer is going to walk by.”

The rut is a compressed period of just a few weeks when a buck has to complete the most important job in his life. With his instincts kicking him in the rear to find does ready to breed, his normal wariness takes the backseat. During the rut, a buck you might never see during daylight the other 11 months of the year suddenly moves around under the sun like a Hollywood star in the spotlight.

Mathes and Morrett both view the rut in three phases – early, peak and late. During the early rut, does start coming into estrus in trickles. Some are in heat, while most are not.

“This is when you’ll see a lot of bucks cruising,” Mathes said. “They have to cover a lot of ground to find a hot doe because there aren’t very many of them around. That’s a great time to be in the woods in the middle of the day.”

See also  6.5mm Creedmoor for Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the 6.5mm Creedmoor a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for grizzly or brown bear hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the 6.5mm Creedmoor is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest grizzly or brown bear. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the grizzly or brown bear, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the grizzly or brown bear in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop 6.5mm Creedmoor Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a grizzly or brown bear in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the 6.5mm Creedmoor within the ideal range of suitable calibers for grizzly or brown bear hunting?” our answer is: No, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is UNDERKILL for grizzly or brown bear hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber 6.5mm Creedmoor Animal Species Grizzly Or Brown Bear Muzzle Energy 2300 foot-pounds Animal Weight 595 lbs Shot Distance 200 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a 6.5mm Creedmoor? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a 6.5mm Creedmoor round is approximately 2300 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male grizzly or brown bear? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male grizzly or brown bear is approximately 595 lbs. [Click Here to Shop 6.5mm Creedmoor Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in grizzly or brown bear hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for grizzly or brown bear to be approximately 200 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the 6.5mm Creedmoor. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the grizzly or brown bear being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether 6.5mm Creedmoor is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest grizzly or brown bear - and to this question, the response again is no, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is UNDERKILL for grizzly or brown bear hunting. [Click Here to Shop 6.5mm Creedmoor Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting grizzly or brown bear to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. 2 Comments Brian Mumford - Jun 09, 2021If the Alaska Department of Fish & Game wasn’t enough to convince you that .308 Winchester and similar calibers ARE enough to take bears, and if the Canadian Arctic Rangers weren’t enough to convince you by selecting a Tikka rifle chambered in .308 for their polar bear rifle back in 2014, the latter (company) now has the same orange “Arctic” rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor (note: these are only two calibers offered in Tikka’s “Arctic” line of rifles). Yes, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester are both acceptable bear rounds. That may not be great for rifle and ammunition sales, but these people have a lot invested by way of protecting the community and manufacturing capable firearms for those who have the need. Polar bears in particular are much larger on average than any brown bear species, so if it’s good enough for a 1,500+ lb. polar bear, it’s good enough for brown bear. John P. Morgan Jr. - Jul 26, 2022In the right hands, under optimal conditions, I will give the 6.5 mm Creedmore a seven (7). Why a seven ? Well it wasn’t due to a lack of penetration! I gave it that number as a cautionary hint. (Hell, If I was toting a .375 H&H, I’d be very concerned !! Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

During the early rut, Mathes likes to set up in pinch points, such as a thin strip of trees connecting two larger blocks of timber or a saddle between two ridgelines. He seeks out those tight places through which bucks on the prowl will funnel, hopefully close enough for a shot.

Many hunters mistake the early rut for the peak period because that’s when they see the most buck activity. But during the peak rut, it will actually appear as though the action has tapered off. It’s now a target-rich environment for bucks on the prowl, and they don’t have to travel far to find a hot doe.

This is the lock-down phase. Bucks will pair with receptive does for 24-36 hours, and they don’t move around much. Though it can seem like the woods are dead during the lock-down, Morrett likes to be in his stand near security cover at midday because a doe can get up at any time to feed or get a drink. Wherever she goes, her buck will follow.

Morrett defines security cover as a thick patch of real estate near or surrounding a deer’s bedding area. When the peak rut coincides with a full moon, Morrett is convinced a midday hunt in security cover can be more productive than hunting the prime time of day.

“I believe deer move all night under the full moon and then they actually lay down at first light to rest,” he said. “A lot of guys head in, thinking the activity is dead, but the deer are going to start getting up to move around again a couple hours after daylight, even though it’s the middle of the day.”

Once the peak rut passes, the late period rolls in, and the number of does coming into heat tapers off. This is Mathes’ favorite time to hunt.

“Just after peak rut is the best time to get a really big buck,” he said. “They’ve had a taste of the rut and they want more, but now the hot does are harder to find. A big mature buck is going to have to put on some miles to find those does now. He’s going to be on the move all the time.”

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This is when Mathes seeks out spots where he can see a long way. If he spots a buck cruising, he can use buck grunts, rattling and/or doe bleats to try to lure in that deer.

“Big bucks will be moving out in the open in the middle of the day during the late rut,” Mathes said. “It’s not going to be in a place that you can see from a road or from a house. It’s going to be in a secluded area.”

WHEN THE GUNFIRE ROARS

Rifle, shotgun and muzzleloader seasons across North America are relatively short periods lasting a few days to a couple of weeks, typically in November, December and/or January.

“In gun season, you get a lot of guys out in a fairly short amount of time,” Morrett said. “You don’t really see this kind of pressure any other time during hunting season.”

And pressure keeps deer on the move.

Since a lot of hunters think the best times to sit are early morning and late afternoon, the middle of the day is when they tend to walk around in hopes of jumping a deer and getting a shot, or when they head out to the truck to warm up and eat lunch.

In the middle of the day during gun season, post up along escape routes or in the middle of the thickest, nastiest cover around. This is where pressured deer will go for safety.

“When it’s gun season, we pack a lunch because we’re going to be out there all day,” Morrett said. “You just know somebody else is going to get cold and hungry and start moving around about lunchtime. And there’s a real good chance they could push a nice buck to you.”

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>