While rutting/chasing activity may be pretty hot still in some areas, in others you may begin to see a decline in visible action and thats because we’re entering the lockdown phase. The dreaded period of the rut when bucks actually have found receptive does and have begun to breed. At this point bucks will typically coral their chosen doe into the thickest cover possible and hunker down with her for long stretches of time. This results in fewer sightings of bucks, and frustration for many hunters.
But don’t get too down, there is still plenty of opportunity for success. One of the first things I would mention is that you’ve got to stay in the stand. Although sightings overall may go down, the action can turn back on at any moment. If a doe in estrus does come rolling by your stand, she most likely will have some bucks in tow and your day could go from slow, to great in seconds. Make sure you’re ready when it happens.
A second factor to consider is that typically during the lockdown, a buck and doe will be holed up in thick cover. Hunting near the thickest nastiest patches of dense cover can sometimes be the ticket to getting your eyes on a big buck.
Lastly, I’d say that the lockdown can be one of the best opportunities for spot and stalk success. While I’ve never done it myself, I’ve heard a lot of stories of people seeing a buck bedded down with a doe in thick cover and then moving in for a shot. If the winds in your favor, and rain or wind has silenced the leaves, you can sometimes sneak up and get in position for a shot or get closer and then call the buck within range. Although not easy and rather risky, it sure could make for an exciting hunt.
In addition to these thoughts on the lockdown, check out the video below from Charles Alsheimer of Deer & Deer Hunting, as he discusses this phase of the rut and some additional strategies for success.