In my last column I discussed a prediction by renowned whitetail expert Charles Alsheimer that the rut will reach peak activity much earlier this year - between Nov. 4-13.
According to Alsheimer, the rutting moon that traditionally triggers the rut will be Nov. 2 this year. That means the three phases of the rut - seeking, chasing and breeding - should take place beginning in late October and stretching through to around Nov. 22.
So, what techniques, scents and calls work best during these phases? The answer is fairly obvious, according to Alsheimer - all you need to do is react to deer behavior.
The seeking phase, which this year is expected to take place Oct. 31 - Nov. 6, can be one of the most productive times to use scents and call deer into range.
That's because bucks are on the move seeking a doe in estrus, but most likely won't be sticking with and chasing every doe they encounter.
Bucks begin getting territorial during this time - and scrape and rub lines start appearing in a dominant buck's home territory.
Alsheimer recommends setting up in these areas, creating mock scrapes of your own combined with a good active scrape scent and using a grunt tube.
This is also one of the best times to rattle bucks in, as they compete for a does attention. Keep in mind this technique works best where the buck to doe ratio is higher.
As deer enter the chasing phase, which this year is predicted to be around Nov. 6 - 12, Alsheimer recommends locating a good funnel area and staying put - all day if need be.
"Setting up in prime travel corridors and pinch points should offer the greatest opportunity to ambush a rut-crazed buck," He wrote in the September edition of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine. "These locations should also have the most scraping and rubbing sign."
Mastering fawn and doe bleats - especially estrus bleats - and hanging scent wicks soaked in doe in heat urine can be deadly at drawing a love-sick buck in range during this phase. Scrapes can also be freshened with an estrus lure to encourage a buck's return.
This is also the time that bucks are most aggressive, so being aggressive with your grunting and rattling is often productive - but keep in mind these techniques can scare off smaller bucks.
When the breeding phase settles in - which this year is expected to be between Nov. 8 - 22 - Alsheimer recommends hunting around known doe groups as deer movement declines during this phase.
Calls can still be effective, but hunters have to put themselves in a position where bucks can hear them, and even then it can be difficult to lure a love-crazed buck from a group of does.
Still hunting bedding areas and driving deer can be effective during this phase as a buck will often stay on the heels of a doe in estrus, letting its guard down much more so than any other time of year.
Good night, Knight
Did you hear that Knight Rifles - which revolutionized modern muzzleloading when they introduced in-line ignition technology in the mid-1980s - quietly went out of business this summer?
Both my brother and I hunt with Knight rifles, and we have always sworn by their craftsmanship and accuracy. It's a shame to hear the company went under - an apparent victim of the economic downturn.
While the recent presidential election has been a boon for many firearm manufacturers, it has not helped the market for black powder hunting firearms.
Since its beginnings in 1985, founder Tony Knight sold more than one million Knight Rifles. A Web site operated by the company says they will at least offer parts and accessories for the foreseeable future.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.