Happy Thanksgiving to all of my new friends here at the Hernando Sun! Each week, I have the opportunity to meet a few of you with questions from my column and so many of you are kind enough to stop and visit when I’ve come out of the woods long enough for a trip to town. For all of the great friendships, I am Grateful!
Now folks, I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately in the Citrus WMA and its surrounding land. And although I’ve been striking out a lot, I’m very proud to announce that the check station has been very active. The mid-day times, when I come out of the blind for lunch, I take a quick ride out and visit a truly unique gentleman, Captain Gavin Storter, US Army, Retired. Gavin, whom now has been working as our Citrus WMA check station attendant for several years, is probably the greatest walking encyclopedia of deer hunting information on this particular Wildlife Management Area, you will ever find. He knows everybody, who’s seeing deer, what time the deer are moving, the phases of the rut and where the big bucks are traditionally taken year in and year out.
Men like him are a valuable asset to us hunters. Stop by and pay him a visit at the check station. Ask, listen and learn…. And tell him old Tobe says hi!
I’m also thankful for this much cooler weather we’ve been enjoying. Coupled with the Full of the moon phase, the second rut in our area is becoming triggered. I expect it to be in full swing by this weekend. Check the oak thickets, along the trails, for newly made scrapes and rubs and consult the weather app on our phones for the dominant wind patterns and place your stands on the downwind side.
Now, for all of you that read my column, but aren’t certain what the, “rut” or “scrapes” are. The “Rut” is the period of breeding activity amongst the deer herds. It comes and goes in waves of peak activity and this weekend will surely be a peak. The peaks are based on the doe’s estrous cycle. The generally sync up in their cycles within the heard and will continue to cycle in and out over a 28 day period for when they will receive the buck for breeding. That’s why, given such a narrow window of opportunity, the bucks go crazy during the peak activity to try and get in as much loving as they can.
Now, the scrape is a very important part of the rut. Bucks will begin by pawing out an area, free of leaves, grasses, etc. The overhanging limb, the bucks will chew and rub their occipital and periorbital glands on, leaving their specific scent ID. Into the pawed out bowl of earth the bucks will stand in the dirt, hocks together and pee all over their hocks, or tarsal glands, letting the tarsal scent rinse into the scrape as a signal to does that he is hot n ready. The does then come around and visit his scrape, depositing calling cards of their own, in the form of urine and glandular secretions.
Once the doe complete’s that activity, she’ll wait for the buck to scent trail and find her before she begins a coy chase sequence, teasing her buck until they take advantage of the opportunity to share their DNA.
As always, if you have any comments, questions or just want to share your success from the woods, give me a shout out at [email protected]. God Bless, Good Hunting and Happy Thanksgiving!