HUNTING THE RUT AT BIG WOODS

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

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    "HUNTING THE RUT AT BIG WOODS"
    by Luke Clayton

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    Luke Clayton


    I just experienced one of the most action packed, fun filled days of deer hunting of my career and I’ve been hunting deer a LONG time. I’ve had a trip to Big Woods on the Trinity (www.bigwoods.net) planned for the past couple weeks but my schedule couldn’t seem to coincide with fair weather until a couple days ago. There is a bright side to all the rainfall we’ve been getting lately, at least when hunting at the Big Woods. The bottoms along the Trinity are flooded which helped to concentrate the deer herd on the higher knolls and hills. This made for an action packed day of antler rattling. With a buck/doe ratio of close to 1:1, antler rattling, especially during the early stages of the rut, proved to be highly effective.

    As I drove to the Big Woods during early morning, I began to get that ‘feeling’ that conditions were perfect for deer hunting. In route to the ranch, along Highway 287, I watched a young buck push a doe out of cover and into the right of way, the rut was definitely on! I’ve been bow hunting for a full month and welcomed the opportunity to put my new .270 TC Venture to work and this short one day outing.

    As I pulled into the gate, Heath Burney, who serves as head guide on the ranch, verified what I had already determined, the rut was going strong.”I’ve been hunting a big eight pointer that will score about 140 BC.” says Heath. “Didn’t see him this morning but did see several bucks chasing does. The high water has the deer concentrated up on higher ground. You should do well with your rattling horns. Is that some sort of new blind in the back of your Jeep?” Heath was referring to the GhostBlind that I have been hunting from since early summer. I quickly unfolded the blind and set it up in camp. With mirrors on the outside and conventional camo inside, the blind consists of panels that fold together and sets up in a matter of seconds. The blind weighs about 18 pounds and with comfortable backpack straps, is highly portable, just the thing for rattling in bucks. My plan was to move through the woods then, when I reached areas with good visibility, quickly set the blind up and spend ten minutes rattling. This ‘run and gun’ style of hunting has the potential to be very exciting!

    I was anxious to head out and begin hunting but I took the time to check my Thompson Center Venture .270. The rifle is extremely accurate, guaranteed to shoot ‘minute of angle’ groups. Topped with the Bushnell Elite scope, this rig is lethal on game out to 300 yards and, beyond for those skilled in long range shooting. With a 3 shot group 1.5 inches high at 100 that a quarter would cover, my confidence was high.

    Dr. Mcfarlane was busy ‘doctoring’ the day of my hunt but he had advised me to hunt a long, winding trail through the hardwoods known as “Wounded Pig Lane”. The area was a couple miles from camp and I quietly parked the ATV, put the GhostBlind on my back, grabbed my rifle, grunt tube and rattling horns and made my way along the trail. As I walked along, deer and hog tracks were evident everywhere. When the whitetail rut kicks in, deer become very active and it’s possible to see them anywhere, so it’s important to remain vigilant. A couple hundred yards down the trail, the woods opened up, giving me a good vantage spot to watch for approaching deer. I set the GhostBlind up quickly, got behind it and began rattling. In a couple of minutes, a big doe, obviously in estrus, came out of the brush, stopped often, looking behind her. I readied the rifle and waited. She was obviously attracted to what she thought was a buck fight and intended to get a ring side seat. She approached within forty yards of the blind then, moved back into the brush. Yes, rattling antlers does sometime attract curious doe as well as bucks looking for a fight!

    My next move took me deep into the woods and there I rattled up my first buck of the day, a big, mature 6 pointer that appeared to be at least 4.5 years old. He came charging out of the heavy cover, stopped in the lane 60 yards away and stood starring my direction, looking for those two bucks that was causing all the commotion. My GhostBlind was setting in the middle of the lane, its mirrors reflecting the exact image of Mother Nature. He never knew I was there. A few soft grunts with the call pulled the buck in close, within easy bow range had I been bow hunting. The buck stayed close for at least a full minute then departed. I stayed put and continued rattling and using the grunt call, then decided to complete my circuitous route that would take me back to the ATV. I had a spot in mind closer to the river known as ‘Bobcat Alley’. Here the woods open up into a 15 acre clearing that, if my assumption was correct, should be holding plenty of deer that had escaped the flooded bottoms.

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    Photo by Luke Clayton​
    Using the trees along the edge of the clearing for cover, I used my binoculars and glassed the distant woodline for deer. Five or six does were feeding in the field and I knew that with the rut going strong, there would surely be at least one buck tending them. Behind my GhostBlind, I began beating the antlers together, then thumping the ground and raking a nearby bush. Within a minute of beginning my rattling sequence, I spotted movement on the far side of the clearing. A big bodied buck stepped out of the heavy cover, looking my way. Then one of the does in the clearing began trotting away and the buck instantly took up her trail. I ranged her at 305 yards and she was on a course that would bring her a bit closer to me, assuming the doe didn’t change directions. At what I later determined to be 295 yards, the buck stopped and gave me a quick broadside shot and the TC Venture did what it was designed to do. The .270 has long been heralded as ‘Texas favorite deer caliber’ and for good reason. Back on the meat pole at camp, the 10 pointer weighed 169 pounds, a 4.5 year old buck. Early that afternoon, I harvested a fat doe that is now hanging in the cooler at the Big Woods. Venison, when allowed to age 7-10 days at the proper temperature is as tasty as the best cuts of beef!

    The whitetail rut always kicks off a bit earlier in this part of east Texas. Dr. Mcfarlane keeps accurate records and says the third week of October to the second week of November is prime time to hunt his Big Woods. With all the newly flooded vegetation, the duck season here promises to be one of the best in years. To plan your duck or deer hunt at the Big Woods, go online to www.bigwoods.net or call 903-391-1112.

    To view a series of pictures I took while hunting the big woods, go online to www.ghostblind.com and click ‘LIVE HUNT PICTURES’. LC

    SCHOOLING STRIPER AT TEXOMA- Guide Bill Carey with Striper Express (www.striperexpress.com) reports lots of action on schooling stripers. “Binoculars are the fisherman’s best friend right now. We have huge flocks of sea gulls pointing the way to the action. Soft plastics worked just below the surface is the best bait when the stripers have shad driven to the top but we’re still catching some big stripers on top water plugs such as the bone colored saltwater Chug Bug and Pencil Popper during the first 30 minutes of daylight in shallow water.”tips Carey. Contact Bill Carey at 877-786-4477.

    REDFISH BITE STEADY AT LAKE FAIRFIELD- Guide Cory Vinson with Guaranteed Guide Service (www.nofishnocharge.com) says the redfish bite couldn’t be better. “We’re enjoying lots of action on fish in the 18-19 inch range and for the past few weeks, boating at least one redfish over 20 pounds. "I’m expecting the big fish bite to intensify as the weather continues to get colder." says Vinson. "Cut bait (shad or perch) fished near bottom on a short Carolina rig is working best. Vinson is keying on points with water 8-10 feet deep."

    Vinson also reports excellent duck hunting on his private lease near Seven Points, Tx, near Cedar Creek Lake. “We’re seeing lots of gadwall, widgeon, wood ducks and a surprising number of teal, both Bluewing and Greenwing are still present. A few mallards have started to show up. The river bottoms always hold large numbers of Wood Ducks. We’re offering guided hunts for $200 which includes a night’s stay in the lodge, a steak dinner, breakfast and bird processing.” For more information, contact Vinson at 469-867-4299.
    Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton at www.catfishradio.com. Contact Luke with fishing and hunting news at lukeclayton@prodigy.net.

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    Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com

    Contact Luke at lukeclayton@prodigy.net

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