Extreme Hunting the Rut

Extreme Hunting the Rut

The key component for rattling success is perseverance, but luck always plays the greatest role and it takes both to harvest an old savvy buck.

Story and photography by Bob Zaiglin

While returning to my Dimmit County ranch house following a slow evening’s hunt, I was excited to see a build-up of clouds at the horizon, a portent for change in the abnormally warm temperatures and the escalation of buck activity.

It was late December and the rut was in full swing, but I failed to see a mature buck all evening; that is until I drove by one of the oat patches located on the ranch.  Experiencing a paucity of rain throughout the fall and early winter, only a sprinkling of green oats could be seen.  When I reached a point where I could see between several islands of tall mesquite trees near the middle of the field, I spotted what I thought was an exceptional buck standing at the brush line.

Slamming on the brakes, my truck came to an abrupt halt as a light cloud of red dust settled upon the windshield.  I grabbed my binoculars, but before I brought them up to my eyes, the buck was gone — but not the impression it had on me.

The following morning in the predawn darkness, I parked my truck in a small persimmon motte, walked several hundred yards to the oats patch and sat down in a dense stand of coyotillo with enough guajillo and blackbrush around to break my outline.  I hoped to rattle up the buck seen the evening before and hopefully verify what I thought was a high-scoring animal.

With a grunt call dangling from my neck and rattling horns laid next to me, I awaited daylight.

As the brush began to take shape in the predawn light, a few drops of rainfall smacked the brim of my hat, within minutes I found myself in a heavy rainstorm without any cover except for the elevated deer blind located in the field.  It wasn’t long before I was comfortably situated in the blind.

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