By Mark Kenyon
Well since my last Rut Diary entry, things have been a little slow. On day 8 I hit the road back to Michigan and bid goodbye to the amazing state of Iowa. I had a truly incredible trip, and it’s safe to say I’ll be counting down the days til I return.
But as soon as I returned to Michigan, it was back to hunting. On day’s 9 and 10 we had very warm and windy weather here in Michigan, so I hung back and hunted some of my stands on the exterior of my properties. Between the balmy weather and the bad wind directions, I didn’t think it was worth pushing into my best areas. I was holding those spots off til Mon-Wed, when a big cold front would be hitting. So on Friday and Saturday I ended up seeing a lot of does and young bucks chasing, but no mature bucks on their feet.
That brings us to today, Monday, November 12. A cold front hit last night, and from yesterday evening to tonight the temperature dropped nearly 30 degrees. Just from the time I got on the stand this morning to the time I got home in the evening, I experienced a 20 degree drop. I knew that this weather would have the deer on the move, and I wasn’t disappointed. I hunted from an hour before daylight until 30 minutes after dark, and over that ~12 hour span I saw probably 50+ does and 9 different bucks. Almost all of these bucks were either chasing does or cruising around looking for them – the rut is definitely on in my neck of the woods. Now of those bucks, the majority were 1.5 yr olds, but there were a couple strong two year olds and one 3 year old shooter that I’ve had my eye on for awhile.
I’ve nick named this buck “Leaner” and I’ve actually seen him on the hoof twice before. I filmed him once this summer feeding in a beanfield, and then encountered him the last weekend of October near one of my food plots. Since then I’ve gotten him on trail camera all over this property, including several times during daylight. I figured it was just a matter of time until I crossed paths with him – and today was the day.
The encounter unfortunately didn’t go the way I would have liked.
Around 8:30 AM I saw a young buck and a doe pop out of the swamp, run around a little and then head back into the swamp. A minute later I saw the same doe emerge with that young buck on her tail again. I see them head into the field, glance to my left at another doe in my food plot and then back to the bean field where the young buck and doe were. Except now there’s not just a young buck and doe. Now the big 10 pointer I call “Leaner” is all of a sudden standing in front of me in the middle of a cut bean field at 40 yards!
This would be great usually, except for the fact that I was caught flat footed – still sitting, with my bow on the hanger. I now had to wait until the bucks and doe were turned the other way before I could slowly stand up and grab my bow. By the time I was able to do this, the deer had moved off out of my shooting lane and were angling away from my position. Now as they were walking out of my life, I fumbled to unzip my rain pants to access the cargo pocket underneath that held my grunt tube. After struggling to get the call, I finally had it to my mouth and I tried two grunts. No response. Now the buck is 65 yards away and I decide I need to give him the ole snort wheeze. Well this is where things went downhill real fast.
You see, my grunt tube is one of those that has a grunt chamber (the tube on the bottom) and a special chamber just for a snort wheeze (tube on the top). Essentially this top chamber is a miniature mega phone, that is used to amplify the aggresive snort wheeze sound you make with your mouth. On the other hand, obviously the grunt chamber below is used to softly blow on to emit the grunting noise. Well being the smooth operator I am, in the midst of my fumbling around trying to call this darn deer in – I ended up blowing a very loud and aggressive snort wheeze, while blowing into the grunt chamber! The resulting sound was a cross between the noises produced by a very angry duck caller and a deranged child with a kazoo! It was loud and it was painful.
Needless to say, that big ole buck took off like a rocket and I doubt he stopped running til he was about a mile away. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so stupid while hunting, and I doubt I’ll live this one down for awhile. It definitely was not one of my better moments as a deer hunter!
That said, it’s back at it again tomorrow and the cold weather ought to keep those rutting bucks moving around. I’m hoping that whitetail redemption can be found tomorrow morning – otherwise, you might see me with my grunt tube on the next episode of Duck Dynasty. I’m sure my calling skills would fit right in there!