Editor’s Note: Chris Kirby has been wearing Mossy Oak most of his life and is the president of Quaker Boy Calls. Through partnering with Mossy Oak, he produces the Deer Thugs line of deer calls. Although Kirby lives in Orchard Park, New York, he hunts all over the country and helps manage several small farms in his area - some as small as 25 acres and others as large as 200 acres. Kirby says, “You definitely can manage deer to produce mature bucks on small properties. Here’s how we do it with 15 members in our hunting club.”
Deer are vocal all year long. Primarily, I’ll use a Deer Thugs Brawler that I carry with me from the beginning of bow season until the last day of hunting season. In the late season, I'm not going to call aggressively or loudly. I'm just going to give contact calls – low sounding and infrequent - one or two note grunts. Once again remember that just because the main rut is over, does not mean that bucks aren’t looking for does to breed – they are. In many states, the second rut occurs at the end of deer season. An older-age-class buck still will have the desire to breed, if he has an opportunity to do so. I like to use a soft tending grunt followed up with some soft bleat calls. Often, those calls will convince a late season mature buck that there’s a doe that hasn’t gotten bred during the first rut, and now she’s looking for a boyfriend. Most of the time, a buck won’t come running hard to get to the sound of the grunt-and-bleat combination of calls. More than likely, he’ll come sneaking in, looking for the doe. Often this gives you a better opportunity to take the shot. When I'm set-up downwind of a green field or a natural food source during the late season, I still use the grunt-and-bleat call.
During the late season, you may have an opportunity to take a mature buck, because most of the younger bucks already have been harvested. Usually in the late season, there’s not nearly as much hunting pressure as there is in the earlier season, because most hunters hunt when the weather isn’t as severe as it is in the late season. Most hunters believe, “The rut is over, and my chances of seeing a buck is much less. So, I’ll stay home and watch football on TV.” These hunters overlook the second rut. Also, they forget that the late season is the time of year when hunting over trails leading to food can be extremely productive.
The three things always on a mature buck’s mind during the late season are:
- How do I continue to stay alive and dodge hunters?
- Where can I get something to eat and plenty of it?
- Where’s my best chances of finding a doe that hasn’t gotten bred during the first rut?