North Carolina’s rut generally starts around the end of October and lasts for the first two t three weeks of November. Sometimes the rut will come late and last into December. I think the rut in our area has a lot to do with the weather. If the weather’s really warm at the end of October and the first of November, we usually don’t see a lot of rutting activity. But when the temperature drops, and this region starts having frost, those bucks have to get up and go.
Hunters using dogs for deer hunting are another determining factor on when we take our better bucks. North Carolina still allows the use of dogs for hunting. Personally I wish we didn’t have it. However, hunting with dogs is a southern tradition, especially here in North Carolina, and we don’t gripe about it. If the dogs from a neighboring property come through our land, we don’t mind. Sometimes we’ll sit still in our stands and let those dogs bring a nice buck to us. If another hunter drops his dogs off on our property and then tries to stand on the edge of our property, we’ll catch his dogs, return the dogs to him and let that hunter know we’re not happy with him. Some people get irate if dogs from an adjacent property cross the land they're hunting, but that doesn’t bother us. We just sit real still and see what’s in front of the dogs when they come on our property.
The good news is that the hunters that use dogs who hunt adjacent to our property don’t like the rogue hunters that will turn a pack of dogs loose on their lands or ours. We know most of these hunters personally, and they know us. The rogue hunters make hunting with dogs bad for everyone. In time, I believe that the tradition of hunting with dogs will fade out like many traditions have. The people who hunt with dogs around us are ethical hunters. They enjoy their sport, and they don’t really bother us on our property. On both clubs, we've been around hunters with dogs for so long that we've learned to co-exist and not make an issue.
Another aspect of hunting with dogs that we've been able to take advantage of is the fact that dogs can’t see antlers. They run what they smell. Many times when dogs come on to our land running a deer, they may be running a doe, and we’ll see old smart bucks get up and sneak out of the woods so the dogs don’t find them. Then we’ll have an opportunity to take a mature buck that we may not have been able to take, if the dogs haven’t come onto our property.
Our land is more or less a sanctuary for older-age-class bucks that come off of the surrounding properties where hunters hunt with dogs. Since we can only take one buck per season, and he's got to be a buck you want to mount, most of the bucks on our property aren’t shot at or harassed by our hunters. They actually have less hunting pressures than the bucks on the adjacent properties that hunt with dogs.
The biggest buck on either one of the two properties we hunt scored 162 inches and was taken by the landowner, while he was sitting on his back porch. We don’t mind our landowner hunting or taking deer, because many times he’ll plant our green fields for us.