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CODY: (Whispering) Something’s coming.

DANIEL: Team member Cody Kraut hunts in western Illinois. And one of his favorite pre-rut hunting strategies is to rattle, especially when he’s hunting in a travel corridor and there’s a fresh scrape nearby.

DANIEL: This has been a very effective hunting strategy for Cody.

DANIEL: Rattling during the pre-rut communicates two bucks are fighting and there’s likely a receptive doe in the area. And it can be a great calling technique to bring a buck into range looking for that receptive doe.

DANIEL: As Cody knows, hunting strategies also need to change throughout the season, depending on where we’re at on that bell-shaped curve as we’ve discussed in the past.

DANIEL: Across most of the whitetails range during mid- to late October, we’re in that pre-rut. We’re on the left side of that bell-shaped curve and there’s a few receptive does. We’re getting a few more each day and buck activity, even during daylight is starting to increase. They’re getting on their feet; they’re looking for those first receptive does.

DANIEL: During this time scrape activity is heating up and calling techniques like grunting and rattling can be effective.

DANIEL: However, once we kind of reach the peak of the rut, that’s when the most does are receptive in an area. Bucks don’t have to move as much to find a receptive doe

DANIEL: They also – they may be with a doe or if they’re going to be near or in thick cover with or looking for a doe that’s in that cover trying to avoid pesky bucks, it can be very difficult to see bucks during this time.

DANIEL: During the rut bucks are burning a lot of calories. And they could lose up to 30 percent of their body weight. Once we pass the peak of the rut, we’re starting to shift back to those food cover patterns.

DANIEL: Hunting near a food source or a travel corridor between cover and food can be effective for catching bucks that are traveling looking for does and are back on that food cover pattern.

DANIEL: Of course, bucks are also trying to consume calories to get ready for winter. So, food sources can be hot hunting locations.

DANIEL: It also means there’s fewer and fewer receptive does. And we can kind of see that pre-rut activity in bucks. It just may not be quite as intense.

DANIEL: Last year Cody used that food source strategy as he was hunting over a cut corn field. And he tagged a nice buck.

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DANIEL: Cody’s had a great hunting season so far this year. During the early season he had several great buck encounters and tagged a big old doe to put some venison in the freezer.

DANIEL: Once we passed the peak of the rut, it was once again Illinois shotgun season. And Cody grabbed the Winchester and headed to the same ag field that he’d tagged that buck in last season.

DANIEL: There was a southwest wind that afternoon, so, Cody decided to set up on the south end of that field.

CODY: (Whispering) We just got set up here in this back field. We’re right at the bottom of this field. We’ve got a pretty steady wind. Wind’s going to be blowing right across there which should be perfect.

DANIEL: Cody suspected that deer were likely in a thick bedding area to the north or in the timber on the western side of that field. So, he set up on the south side hoping deer would come out, begin feeding before dark. He also knew, given the time of year, there was a chance that a buck could just cruise through that field looking for does.

DANIEL: Cody and Caleb hadn’t been hunting long when they spotted antlers across the field.

DANIEL: You can tell by this buck’s body language he seems to be on a mission. And he’s cruising the edge of that field headed straight toward Cody.

DANIEL: He quickly closed the distance. Cody ranged him and he was less than 100 yards away.

CODY: He’s down right there.

DANIEL: The Winchester did the job, and that buck was down on the edge of the field.

CODY: Oh, yeah.

CODY: Well, we got up here and we found him just about a yard inside the woods. And I tell you what. Sometimes you just can’t write it up any better.

CODY: It wasn’t too long. We were sitting there, and I saw antlers coming down the edge of the woods, and here he came. Shot him quarter in two and Caleb just did an awesome job on the camera. So, thankful he was able to be here to film it for me.

CODY: And I mean, I couldn’t be more happy to spend this time with Hayden and Caleb here at deer camp 2021. It’s just a blast. And I still have a doe tag in my pocket. So, hopefully, the next, or the rest of the weekend is just going to be going after a doe. I’m just tickled to death to shoot this deer.

DANIEL: Great job, Cody and Caleb on a well-executed hunting strategy that resulted in a great set of antlers and more venison for the freezer.

DANIEL: Cody still had a tag in his pocket. So, the next morning, he went to the stand with is Prime looking for a doe.

DANIEL: It was still early when a buck they call Captain Hook came walking down the trail.

DANIEL: Captain Hook put on a show just yards away working a scrape.

DANIEL: Notice how Captain Hook smelled both that hanging limb and the ground portion of the scrape.

DANIEL: It wasn’t long after Captain Hook drifted out of sight that they spotted a big ole doe.

CODY: (Whispering) Well, we’re tagged out for shotgun season. We got one with the Winchester and then we just got one with the Prime.

CODY: It’s a big ole doe.

DANIEL: Congratulations, Cody on punching another tag.

DANIEL: Colby, Caleb and Hayden had a great weekend in deer camp. They enjoyed some great hunts and fellowship together.

DANIEL: Cody’s hunts and observations are a great example of deer behavior and effect hunting strategies once we’ve passed the peak of the rut and we start sliding to the right side of that bell-shaped curve.

DANIEL: The buck Cody tagged with his shotgun had come out of a thick bedding area and cruised right along the edge of that field.

DANIEL: You may have noticed that buck was moving quickly, and he never stopped to feed.

DANIEL: Given this buck’s body language and his path of travel, it’s likely he was cutting across this field visually searching the field for does feeding. He also would have had his nose to the wind, likely scent checking the timber on the west side of the field.

DANIEL: The following morning, Cody was in a travel corridor, had a great encounter with a good-looking buck. He worked a scrape, but not too aggressively. He smelled the overhanging limb and the ground, receiving scent and likely depositing scent.

DANIEL: Scrapes are communication hubs. Scrape activity – it can increase again after the peak of the rut, but it’s not probably going to be as intense as it is during the pre-rut.

DANIEL: These are great examples of deer behavior this time of year past the peak of the rut and as there are fewer and fewer receptive does each day.

DANIEL: Hunting locations near those food sources or travel corridors, maybe a fresh scrape nearby, well, it could result in seeing some great bucks.

DANIEL: Whether you’re hunting with friends this week or maybe you’ve filled all your tags and – and it’s time to process venison, I hope you get outside and enjoy Creation. But more importantly, slow down, listen to what the Creator is saying to you and the purpose He has for your life.

DANIEL: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.