Public Land Rut Hunting Roller Coaster

Show Notes

In this episode of the How to Hunt Deer Podcast, Josh covers the highs, lows, and all the tough in-betweens of the first half of rutcation '23. 

Josh's rut hunt is over, so time to recap! This episode was recorded at the midway point of Josh's rutcation, after some pretty bad flops and blown opportunities. The takeaway? Have FUN! Hunting the rut really is a marathon, not a sprint. And the worst thing you could do is to let adversity steal your enjoyment. So give this episode a listen, and get back out there!

Show Transcript

The best part of the hunting season is finally here. We've waited for this all year long. Now let's make it count with some great gear from our partners. First up, Tacticam is our title sponsor and their point of view cameras are my go to method for filming my hunts. Their new 6. 0 camera has added a one inch LCD touchscreen that has totally changed the game for me.

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And I pair this with a Tacticam remote so I can turn both cameras on with a push of a single button. To learn more or pick up your 6. 0 today, head over to Tacticam. com. Share your hunt with Tacticam. Now, as the temps begin to drop, I know I'll be hunting in comfort with my Huntworth camo. Huntworth is making high quality technical hunting clothing at a fraction of the price of other [00:01:00] brands.

This time of year, I'm making sure to layer smart. I start with a set of base layers, either the Casper or the Bangor, which I have found to be very comfortable and moisture wicking. Next I'll have on either my Elkins mid weight top and bottom. Or my Saskatoon heavyweight top and bottom. Either way. I'm also going to be bringing my Saskatoon vest and because the hunting often gets better when the weather turns nasty this time of year, the Winstead rain suit lives in my Hickory pack all the time.

And I can honestly say that this is the best rain suit that I have ever used. You can learn more or grab your Huntworth gear today at huntworthgear. com. And finally, the Onyx Hunt app is an absolutely indispensable tool for me this time of year. If I'm not in the action, I'm going to be making a move to go find it.

And the Onyx Hunt app helps me identify those terrain features that I want to key in on with their latest aerial imagery additions. The app now has fully functional 3d on both iOS and Android, low resolution satellite images updated every [00:02:00] two weeks with historic look back and leaf off imagery, all in addition to the base maps that you've always had in the app.

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A Hunt Deer podcast, which is brought to you by Tacticam. This podcast aims to educate those who are interested in becoming deer hunters. Brushing up on essential skills, or maybe just adding a few new tactics to the toolkit. Here we cover a variety of topics that are going to help you be more confident and successful in the field while you're hunting deer.

Thank you so much for tuning in this week, guys. I am in the middle, I guess you could say, of my Wisconsin rut hunting trip. And boy, it has been one for the books. Pierce and I actually did my buddy Pierce and I actually did a full recap so far. Last night and it aired on the Wisconsin sportsman podcast today, which is November [00:03:00] 7th, that is Tuesday.

So if you want the full rundown of both of us and what's been going on you can go listen to that episode of the Wisconsin sportsman that launched November 7th, but I'm going to be flying solo tonight. I've got a few things that have happened, man. It's been a fun trip. It's been a good.

A good learning experience for me and has really served to stretch me. And, I'll be honest with you, I'm feeling a little bit in the dumps right now, but also feeling a little bit confident about tomorrow. Let me start off with the update. So I left on Halloween night October 31st, after trick or treating.

So that put me not getting out the door until, 10 o'clock or something like that. Like once, once kids were in bed, once candy had been eaten, once I got to say goodbye to the family. And drove through the night all the way up here to Wisconsin. Stopped for about two hours for a quick nap. I was really struggling at that point.

Really having a hard time keeping the eyes open. But anyway, was able to make it up [00:04:00] here on that Wednesday by somewhere around, I think, one in the afternoon. And when I got here, I'll tell ya, I was... Absolutely wiped. Absolutely exhausted. And I thought, you know what? It's probably a better use of my time.

Take tonight. Unload the car. Organize my gear. Get settled in where I'm staying. Then maybe go ride the roads a little bit. Check out some ag fields. See what's going on. See what crops are down. See what crops aren't down. that ended up being really helpful to realize that man, all of the corn here was still standing whenever I got here.

So that was a big bummer. rEally makes this property a lot more difficult to hunt whenever that corn is standing because there are quite a few acres of corn wrapped around this wrapped around this piece of public that I like to hunt here. So anyway, got here and got settled and did the drive, saw the corn.

And, I was already a little bit panicky because I was not getting a [00:05:00] lot on my cameras, but I figured, what that is telling me is that the spots where I have the cameras are spots that I just don't need to go. So I'm going to stay out of them a little bit. So I got a little bit I don't know, fancy, I guess you could say on that first day, morning one, I did go ahead and jump right into an old standby spot.

That is. It's, typically pretty good this time of year. It's an area where I killed a buck in 2021. I think it was. Yeah. My 2021 buck. I actually shot another buck there earlier in the fall in 2021 that I was not able to recover. That was much larger. And this is an area where I've got a lot of pictures in the past and it's just, it's historically a good spot during the rut.

But so I sat there the first morning. Just a way to spend the morning, right? Like I wanted to get the first climb out of the way. It was actually my first time in the tree for all of the fall of 2023. I've been very busy starting businesses and taking on new things and trying to be dad at home and husband [00:06:00] and be responsible which is pretty tough when it comes to my love for hobbies.

So anyway, I sat there for the morning and totally blinked. But what I did do is I got in, I made a lot of mistakes. I figured my gear out, it's riding a bike and. A lot of it is very familiar, but then a lot of it too, you just forget. I made a lot of noise messed up a lot of things, and was glad to have that one out of the way.

For that evening, though, I decided, you know what, it's a weird wind, I'm going to go in, I'm going to go way back into this marsh. I had these grand ideas. That I was going to go way back in there, and I was going to glass this area that's nearly impossible to access. I had my waiters with me. It was going to be great, right?

Like I was going to be a regular Dan in fault here and it was going to be awesome. I get, I don't know, a mile and a half across this Marsh and it has been a slog. I am pushing through, uh, [00:07:00] grass and other wetland type of plants that are over my head, so I have, I can't see where I'm going. I have no idea.

I've just got on X out and, I'm trying to keep a good bead and the direction that I want to go. But I can also see that there are duck scrapes and stuff where I'm trying to dodge these wet spots. Finally I get to the spot and I'm like, man, quarter mile left to go, I'm almost there.

And if I can just get there, the reward will be worth it. I'm two hours into the hike at this point. And I was just dying. It's a little warmer than I wanted it to be out. I'm wearing waders, hiking through this tall stuff physically. It's very difficult to get through. Then I get out there and I realized, okay, I'm surrounded on three sides by water, which is by design, because there's this little spot where I could cross the water or so I thought, uh, this little finger that juts in between these two larger ponds, but then there's a smaller canal that [00:08:00] connects the two.

I was going to cross that canal. I get to the canal. I'm like, okay, this is going to be awesome. I'm going to cross this and boom, I'm done with water. I go to cross the canal and very quickly, I realized the water's way above my waders, like possibly even above my head if I were to get all the way into the water.

So that's not going to work. That means I have to go out around these bodies of water. To loop all the way around. And I knew that if I attempted that it was going to be a much more difficult route, and I just didn't have it in me at that point. So I decided, you know what? It's simply not worth it. Like I have got a lot of other spots that I can check out.

I'll never make it there by dark. And that was the original reason that I decided to pull the plug. I realized at this point, I wasn't even going to make it by dark, like much less get there in time to have a good hunt. I'm just not going to make it there at all to even be able to see what I needed to see.

So I back out and I go to a number two spot, right? Like it's a spot that I thought that maybe I could see a long ways, [00:09:00] maybe get some eyes on something, but there's also a little bit of a pinch there. So I thought maybe the deer pinch down right here and I'll be able to I'll be able to see, see what's going on out, out in this portion of the marsh.

So I get to this little pinch and I'm sitting there for a while, right at last light, a doe comes out and she catches me off guard. I was down in front of where I had been sitting, I crawled down the hill and just a little bit and she caught me off guard. So I dropped my binos or I set them down next to me.

So I thought, and it hit the grass and they ended up rolling a little bit down this hill. And that obviously makes some noise. She gets a little antsy, just walks through the area, takes a couple bounds and then keeps going on her way. But she was looking back, so I thought, okay, there's a buck on her tail.

So I sit there, and I'm watching this watching this buck step through. And, I don't know it's a buck at this time, but then he steps into one of my shooting lanes that I thought was more clear than this. But, obviously on public land, you can't really clear shooting lanes. He steps into the lane, and [00:10:00] what I can see is his front shoulder.

I can see vitals. And I can see a fork sticking up above the brush there. So my assumption was, okay, it's a little forky tail in this dough. I had seen, four keys on camera in this general area. So I was like, all right, that it's the four keys that I've been seeing, or one of them. And so no big deal.

So I do what bow hunters do, right? Like I take a practice draw, settle my pin, look at it, whatever. And I pass this supposed forky the deer takes a step. He's out of the shooting lane, goes through some brush. When he steps out of the brush on the other side, he's probably. 45 plus yards, right? I didn't range him at that point.

He was too far for a shot and I realized, Oh no, that's not a, that's not a forky at all. In fact, that's a giant. What I had seen was a split G2 and what makes it even worse. Is I was at full draw on this deer and I in no way had my heart rate up. I wasn't excited in the sense of having buck fever.

I was excited to see deer, obviously, but I didn't have buck [00:11:00] fever or anything like that. So if I would have just decided, you know what a forky is what I came here for. I would have left with a deer that I would be very proud to have on my wall. But because I was some might consider a little bit greedy, I had to watch this buck with a giant frame run out of my life forever.

And yeah, that was a hard day one. Hey guys, just want to take a quick minute to let you know that the How to Hunt Deer Podcast is brought to you by Tica makers of the best point of view cameras on the market. For hunters and anglers, they're on the cutting edge, making user-friendly cameras to help the everyday outdoorsmen share your hunt with friends and loved one.

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Tacticam makes all of that a breeze with their line of accessories. This fall, I'll be using their stabilizer mount on my bow with a 6. 0 camera and their bendy clamp paired with a 5. 0 wide camera for a second angle and to make sure I don't miss any of the action. To learn more and check out their full line of products, head over to their website, tacticam.

com. Share your hunt with Tacticam. But ever since then though, I very quickly got, have been on bucks. Like I went into some historically good areas uh, found a little bit of sign that I liked. I've seen bucks following does pushing does around out of bedding areas, that kind of thing. And actually two nights ago, I had a dream buck come sprinting in.

I decided to make a move in the middle of the day. I've been sitting basically dark to dark, right? So I decided to make a move in the middle of the day. I'm going to move over about 150 yards to a spot that I think is a little bit better than the one that I'm in. So I climb up in the tree. It's a beast to get into the tree, but I finally get settled and it's not very good to hang in.

The tree is a [00:13:00] real leaner and leaning hard and. Yeah, I have to get up to where the actual tree itself begins to branch off towards the top because it's a smaller tree And it's just not very comfortable and the shot is going to be to my weak side So i'm gonna have to spin all the way around on my platform to get a good shot We're right at about 230 245 somewhere in there.

I hear a deer coming. I look up. It's a giant He comes into my shooting lane, which is pretty wide. I mean i've got a shooting lane there. That's probably I don't know, 10 yards wide and he's trotting through. And so I try to stop him with a little, and that doesn't work. So I ended up doing that four times.

And the last one, I basically just yelled at this thing and he stopped, he looked up at me and I did exactly what I did last year. I grazed the top of this deer's back. I thought at first. That I'd missed him forward, but I went down there, got the arrow. There was a little bit of hair. It was cut real, real short.[00:14:00]

Really short. So no blood, no fat, no skin nothing except for just hair. Just short hair. So I'm like, okay, I grazed him, whatever. And it looked like I missed him forward. At least from what I saw now, no excuses on the shot, right? Like I was all twisted up, whatever. But at the end.

At the end of the day, I had bug fever, bad, like I was shook. I did not expect a deer to come charging in at 245 in the afternoon. That's why I sit all day, right? That's why I do that. But for some reason, I just, I wasn't on my A game and I wasn't expecting it. Didn't make the shot. I ended up getting a picture of this deer though, because I do have those cell cameras out.

I ended up getting a picture of the deer and I did not miss him forward. I grazed right across the top of his back. The exact same thing. That I did last season to the buck that I ended up taking. So I've got to get something figured out when it comes to my shooting. I think [00:15:00] it's just a case of target panic, right?

Like a, like buck fever induced target panic. As soon as my pen drops down from the top, which it shouldn't be doing that, but it is, and I see Brown and I pull the trigger and you know what? Everything happened fast. I was freaked out just as what it is, but. Anyway, that buck is still around. He has no worse for wear.

You can see on the deer that basically it's just some hair shaved off. I don't know how I got so close to hitting this deer solid without actually cutting him, but it doesn't appear in the picture that he's cut at all. It literally just looks like somebody took a razor and shaved his hair off. But it's definitely him and it's definitely an arrow wound or at least, an arrow mark that I can see on this deer's back.

Anyway, all that to say, I was in a funk after that, man, I was feeling down. I'm away from the family. I put in a lot of hard work for this. I've been hunting dark to dark. I've seen a lot of bucks. I've had a lot of bucks in shooting range. Like I said, if [00:16:00] you want to hear more, you can go listen to the Wisconsin sportsman.

But I, at that point I had seen I don't know, I think I saw six bucks that day. Or something ridiculous. It was just, it's been crazy. It's been really good hunting, but I'd had so many deer in shooting range and so many things happened. They. One of them I drew back on and let down because I thought he was too small, but he turned out to be a giant.

Another one, he could go left and follow the does, or he could go right and go work a scrape. And if he comes left, he, I'd get a shot. If he turned right, I couldn't get a shot. Guess what? He went right, left his does, and went to work a scrape and totally walked away from the does. So it's just been one thing after another.

When it comes to this trip. And so after that, I was totally deflated. I went into yesterday, hunted. Till about one o'clock, 1230 in the afternoon, and finally got that spot dialed in where I had sat the evening before and, grazed that deer. So what I ended up doing was finding a spot where I can hunt this from [00:17:00] a north wind, which is because it's been good for a south wind.

But I wanted to hunt this place on a North wind. The access is going to be really a pain, but I'm going to have a good shot with a North wind and hopefully I can get another crack at this deer. There's just really good movement along this specific movement line that I'm had been hunting. I gave it a break though today.

And I did something fun. And this is really the meat, of the episode. What I want you guys to take away from this is today, I just decided, you know what, I want to enjoy my hunting. These last couple of days I've been getting in super early. I've been walking super far. I've been doing things like wading through chest deep water.

Up creeks, to get to where I need to be. I've been working so, so hard and stay was good. It was going to be no different, right? Like I was in over a mile again today. Long slog through the marsh. So not an easy walk at all. I'm going to do it again tomorrow, but I went into an area [00:18:00] today with the intention of scouting and I wanted to call on my way in.

Because it was going to be down in the thick of it. Every all around me is good, solid bedding cover in this area. And it's just a huge chunk that is providing good bedding cover. So I get down in there. I see a buck actually in a, in the corn field that I crossed to get in there first. He did not come to the calling.

He was not responsive. But, I'm heading in at first light so I could see him. So that was cool right off the bat. I got a buck 200 yards from me. That's neat. I get back into the bedding. I'm getting ready to make my first calling sequence. I see a doe stand up out of her bed. She doesn't know what I was.

So she just went around the bush and laid back down. So that was cool too. I do a calling sequence, nothing. I push in a little bit further and I do another calling sequence. When, and this is once I really started finding some buck sign. And I do another calling sequence, and wouldn't you know it, next thing you know I hear a buck coming, and he is walking from, I [00:19:00] guess it's my east, and he makes a big J hook all the way around me, and when he's coming in he is just being aggressive, he is rubbing trees, Take care.

Bye. Bye. Bye. He's grunting super deeply. Bruh, bruh. And so I'm like, man, this is gonna happen. Like this is going to happen. And I thought for sure what was behind me was too thick for him to get around or really want to get around. I thought he'd come into the opening in front of me to check things out.

And that was my goal, was to put really thick stuff behind me. So that they wouldn't get downwind of me and wind me, but he most definitely got downwind of me and winded me. He was probably about 20 yards whenever he finally winded me though. I could hear him coming, he was breaking branches and stuff trying to get through this thick stuff.

And then finally caught my wind. I never could lay eyes on him though. So I can only imagine the size of the deer, he sounded big, but who knows? It may have been a one year old buck with just a really deep grunt and really aggressive tendencies. I don't know.

But what matters [00:20:00] is the fact that. Man, rattling worked like I got in there and in this bedding area where I was finding buck sign, I rattled a buck comes in. It's awesome, right? Get in a little bit further. And guys, I, I'd be lying if I told you that I've found a better spot. To hunt ever in my life. I found a giant, well, I say giant.

I found a very nice primary scrape. The scrape is probably dug out three inches deep in the ground, and there are no less than seven trails that converge at this one scrape area. So I back up a little bit and I decided, you know what, I'm going to give this a little bit of a sit here in the late morning into the midday and see what's going on before I continue my calling and scouting.

So I sit there for a little while, and I see nothing, but then I do hear a buck grunting and moving from my east to my west, and he's clearly just cruising, but grunting the whole time bruh, bruh, and loud, too. Which was really cool, getting down here in the marsh. I heard a lot more buck [00:21:00] vocalizations than I normally would hear when I'm not hunting down in the marsh.

So it's interesting, I guess it's just maybe a symptom of being down in their bedroom where they're a little bit more comfortable. So I get down in there, I hear this buck coming and he gets past me. I'm like, Oh man, bummer. That's, that was my chance. He's. 30 yards beyond the scrape and I just couldn't see him.

So I'm like, you know what? I'm just going to rattle to this deer and try to call him in. So I do another rattling sequence and I'm breaking stuff and I'm hitting branches and I'm stomping around. I'm doing the whole thing on the ground, right? And this little forky turns around and comes all the way back in.

I'm assuming it was the forky that had run through grunting the first time because he You know, very quickly came in grunting again, just a little bit, but so I assume it was the same deer either way rattled in a buck, a second buck to rattle in for the day and actually had another one that responded as well.

So I just realized, man, that was a lot of fun. Like I [00:22:00] slept in a little bit this morning. I went in at daylight. I walked slowly through some really thick stuff. I set up in several places on the ground and I just called to deer in an area that felt like a deary area, like a really deary area. Like I was down in there with it or in it with them.

And man, what a lot of fun. And that's something I'll just want to leave you guys with this rut. Just have fun, man. Hunting the rut can be grueling, painstaking, annoying, difficult. But at the end of the day, you can go out, have a good time, keep it fun, do the things that make it fun. I got up after that sit, I scattered around, I found another good area, or I found, that this is the best area that I'm at.

And so I'm going to be back in there again tomorrow. It's supposed to rain and I'm going to get in there in the rain early in the morning, and I am going to sit there and make sure that I am there when the [00:23:00] rain lets up, it's supposed to rain all day long, but I'm going to have my Huntworth gear camo on my Huntworth rain gear on actually, which I've said it before, guys, it's the best rain gear I've ever used.

It actually keeps me dry, like bone dry on the inside, which is super, super nice. I've used a lot of ring gear in the past and just not been happy with it, but this stuff is breathable. You don't get too hot. You don't get super sweaty inside and it keeps you really dry. So I'm going to get in there before daylight set up on this scrape on the ground, the scrape will be something like 15 yards away, so it's going to be a ridiculously close shot.

But, you know what, it's the only place that I can be, there's not a single tree to climb in here anywhere, it's marshy, nasty stuff. But the scrape is torn up, there are all these trails converging, and if a buck wants to come in and freshen that scrape, during a break in the rain, I want to make sure that I am there.

So my plan is to be there, dark to dark tomorrow but at the same time keeping it fun, right? Like [00:24:00] I'm in there, on the ground, doing something different, like that's just, it's just fun stuff. Anyway, guys, it's it's the rut. It's the best time of the year to kill a good buck. Maybe not the best time of the year to kill a specific buck that you're after, but the best time of the year to kill a good buck.

So get out in the timber, spend some time out there, hunt hard, but make sure that you're having fun. And I'll catch you next week, hopefully telling you of how I sealed the deal here in Wisconsin. That's all for this week's episode. As always, thank you so much for tuning in. If you dig this show, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, wherever it is that you get your podcasts.

If you can leave us a five star review, I would very much appreciate that. While you're at it, you can follow along with my outdoor adventures on Instagram at HowToHuntDeer. That's also the best way to get ahold of me, suggest topics that you want to hear, guests you want to hear from, or questions that you'd like me to explore on the show.

Big thanks to our partners, Tacticam, Huntworth, and OnX, please go support the brands that support this show and help me bring you great content each and every week. [00:25:00] If you're looking for more outdoor content, check out the sportsmansempire. com where you're going to find my other podcasts, the Wisconsin Sportsman, as well as a ton of other awesome outdoor podcasts.