The Last Week of November

If you are relying on natural movement at this time, you need to know what you are up against. In most parts of North America north of the Mason-Dixon line, the peak of the breeding phase of the rut has come and gone. If you think of a graph of the number of estrous does this time of year as a bell-shaped curve, you will see we are on the downward slide on the back end of the curve. There are still a few does in estrous but each day that number declines fast. By roughly Nov. 26, in my experience, it is mostly over. Sure there could be the odd doe still in season after that date, but a hot doe in late November is a rare find.

So the bucks that were tied up with does (locked-down, if you prefer) are now on the market again. They aren't moving aggressively, but they are still moving, cruising, looking for those last few does. Though the intensity of the first half of the rut is now missing, the opportunity to shoot a trophy may actually be greater now than at any other point of the season. For example, last year, I hunted every day of the rut, but I didn't kill a mature buck until Nov. 24. He was pushing a doe around when I saw him, and after she snuck off I was able to call him right in. He was acting very aggressively—this was no young deer. My best estimates (based on history with the buck) put him at 7 1/2 years old or older. During that same time a friend of mine also shot a giant old buck he had been hunting for several years. That buck, too, was out cruising and looking for does.

Once you get into the very tail end of November and the first few days of December the bucks are laying up, licking their wounds and resting before they start to move toward the food.

Again, if you are still hunting natural movement patterns (as opposed to pressured deer), you still have a few days of good (maybe great) hunting. Stick with it. Good luck.

Check out this week's video.

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