The last few weeks, I've been hunting hard in West Central Illinois, and it's obvious the rut is getting close, but hunting has been tough! I've been on stand everyday from dark to dark watching the deer change their patterns and doing my best to stay one step ahead. Obviously, sitting in a tree can be pretty limiting when it comes to scouting, so I've been relying on my trail cameras to tell me what's happening on the rest of the farm as I sit on stand.
The bucks finally started moving during daylight hours when the temps dropped, but it wasn't until last week that the scrapes and rubs started appearing everywhere! This is one of my favorite times in Illinois because it's a great way to pinpoint where a buck is going to be and place a trail camera near his scrape or rub. It's an easy way to find out what size deer are hanging around and you'd be amazed at the variety of bucks hitting these locations. If you love checking through the trail cam photos, then you'll really love the new Cuddeback Attacks with their video option.
I usually set my cameras to video mode so not only will I get a picture of the first deer that triggers the camera, I will also get another 30-second video afterward. Not only does this help you get a better estimate on score and age by having a 30-second video, but it also gets the next buck strolling through that you may have otherwise missed.
Spending so much time in the woods, you also get a better understanding for what is going on with the deer during that exact moment in that location. In the beginning I wasn't hearing any grunting or fighting, so obviously rattling and grunting would seem out of place to do as a hunter. As the days got closer to November, bucks really started to ramp it up. This also tells me as a hunter that now would be a wonderful time to use grunt calls, rattling and even throw in a snort wheeze from time to time. I can assure you if I'm on stand tomorrow morning and I see a shooter buck off in the distance, I will use a sequence of grunts, rattling and a snort wheeze to try and bring him in closer. But there is one important tip that so many hunters forget: If you don't plan on shooting the buck, don't grunt or rattle trying to bring him close! All this does is educate young deer and it will ultimately hurt your chances of bringing him in as he grows older and becomes the shooter you are someday after.