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Rut: Punch the clock

Mark Drury discovered once again this year, the solution to a slow rut could be simply punching the hunting time clock and being on stand as often as possible. 

It's mid-November and across much of whitetail country, the rut is in full swing … sort of.

With mild autumn weather across much of the nation, this year's rut hasn't been as pronounced in some areas as it has been in other years.

"It's been kind of slow, primarily because of the weather, although we've killed eight good mature bucks," said Rick Wombles of Hopewell Views Hunting Club in Illinois' famed Pike County.

Up the road a piece at the popular Gamemasters outdoor store and deer check station in Quincy, Ill., this fall's whitetail hunting story has been pretty much the same: a slow rut to be sure, but still an autumn where the occasional big buck monstrosity is checked in by a hunter that has put his or her time in the woods.

"It's been a horrible week (last week), but the only deer brought in have been monsters," said Cabot Benton, owner and operator of Gamemasters.

"The rut is just now getting fired up because it is just now getting cold. It (may be a) little behind schedule this year."

Even so, that doesn't mean that hunter's aren't out there in the North American woods trying their best, however.

And for those who are persevering and punching the time clock during this year's rut, big bucks are still being brought into check stations around deer country.

One such hunter is Mark Drury, co-founder and manager of MAD Calls who regularly appears in Drury Outdoors' whitetail deer hunting video series.

As a lot of big-buck aficionados across the nation know, Drury and his brother Terry kill fair-chase whopper whitetails with amazing regularity, most of the time with their compound bows in hand.

As recently as Nov. 9, Drury was apparently up to his old tricks again, reportedly tagging a monster 17-point non-typical bow buck in Iowa with a gross score exceeding 194-inches!

And that's scarcely a year after he tagged an impressive double-drop tined non-typical whitetail measuring 191-inches, another bow buck that was aptly dubbed Skyscraper.

As evidenced by both monster bucks, it would be wise to reflect back on some sage advice that Drury gave me a couple of years back at the Archery Trade Association Show in Indianapolis about hunting whitetails during a slow and milder than normal autumn rutting cycle.

If a hunter wants to kill a big buck during such a period, a primary consideration is to watch the weather maps and be out in the woods without fail if and when the temperature takes a nosedive.

"It's difficult (to kill a big deer) when the weather is warm," Drury said. "If your temperatures aren't right, it's going to subdue your whitetail movement. It's not hard if it's cold.

The reasons are easy enough to understand, he explained:

"In my opinion, if your highs start to creep above the 50s, you're lessening your chances of killing a deer. Put your winter coat on and go run around on a 50 degree day and you're not going to do it very long. When it starts creeping into the 60s, boom, it's gone."

There is more to killing a big deer during a slow rut than simply seeing how much red liquid is showing in the thermometer, however.

"There are two key ingredients to killing a good deer," Drury said. "No. 1, he's got to be there before you can kill him. And, No. 2, you've got to have the time to hunt him before you can kill him."

Once a hunter has secured a piece of property or located a spot on public land where big bucks roam, tagging a trophy whitetail comes only as a hunter is able and willing to watch the grains of sand slip through the hour glass while on stand.

"If you've got the time to sit there, then it's a waiting game," Drury said.

"It's a lot of time once you get where they are at, a lot of time," he added.

It's similar to the lottery, he added: "The more you play the more chances you have to win."

"The more you sit out there in whitetail habitat, the better chances you have of seeing and killing a deer, provided that you keep the wind right," Drury said.

His advice might be especially useful this year.

Even if the rut isn't quite as red-hot as some hunters around the continent like for it to be, the bucks are still out there with love on their mind.

And, besides, a hunter simply can't kill a monster whitetail while sitting in his easy chair, now can he?