Try This Playbook When Your Tried-and-True Rut Stands Go Cold
I remember my first Kansas hunt quite well. I arrived just before dark on November 11, 2007, and immediately hung a stand so I could hunt the following morning. Joining me on the hunt and to run the video camera was my mother.
We climbed into that ancient cottonwood tree the following morning as planned. Right at the first glint of daylight, a nice 125-inch 8-pointer marched by broadside just 30 yards away. My brother, who’d been hunting the area a week earlier and killed a 150-class buck on his second morning hunt, instructed that the area could produce far better than that, so my arrow stayed on the bowstring. I was sure the best was yet to come.
After a week of morning and afternoon hunts — not to mention a couple all-day sits — that first buck was the largest we’d seen, an onslaught of immature bucks invariably walking about at our stand locations. Curse. We’d hit the rut’s dreaded lockdown phase.
Two mornings later, I mistook a mediocre, broken-racked 8-pointer for a mature buck and let him have it. Though I value the life of every animal I take, I was less than impressed with my age/antler judgement, the buck shrinking with every step as I approached him. I felt as though lockdown had won and I’d lost.
For most hunters, lockdown can be a difficult and frustrating time to hunt. If you confine yourself to funnel stands where bucks were trolling for does a week, or even a few days earlier, it’ll just about drive you mad. Immature bucks and fawns will mosey around your stands, but it’ll feel as if every doe and mature buck has vanished.
However, you don’t have to occupy that same 20-inch platform during this time frame. There are alternative moves you can make that can potentially put you in the game during November’s most difficult days.
Here are five alternative options.