PSE’s Jared Bloomgren’s 2012 Post Rut Whitetails
In December I was able to concentrate on strictly hunting whitetails in my home state of SD. November was filled with a rifle hunt for muleys where I was able to anchor an outstanding buck with over 20 miles of hiking public land in two days! Although these blogs are geared towards bowhunting and archery I think he is a worthy adversary to show here as well! It would have been a hunt completed with my bow but unfortunately forgot a very important piece to that puzzle as I snuck out of our home very quietly with fear of waking my children at 3 in the morning! Oops!
Now back to bowhunting for whitetail in December during the Post Rut. Most times the bucks are starting to get back to their routine of concentrating on food because of lost body weight and energy due to the November rut. However, the does that were missed in the first breeding cycle will come into estrus again roughly a month after their first cycle. Generally this happens during the middle of December and you can bet the bucks will still be checking for receptive does around this time.
This year in 2012 I was seeing what I had seen in previous years. The deer were starting to calm back down from the rifle season and the onslaught of bow season when most hunters are out. The deer began to move back into public land from the security of private, less pressured land. Figuring out their travel patterns became easier to do. They are back to a solid feeding and bedding area routine unless a doe comes into cycle. Then you may see an occasional buck paired up with that hot doe for a day. Otherwise the bucks will start to join back up in bachelor groups and start to let their guard down once again like in the early season. Although they might not be as relaxed as early season they will become very hunt-able with the bow again. Even those deer that were pressured a great deal during the rifle season will start to chill out! This is a great time to be out there and getting after them!
My preferred way to hunt any animal is by spot and stalk and still hunting. Treestand and ground blind hunting can be very affective too but I like to be able to move when I want and where I need to without having to move a stand or blind. I have found that being mobile really increases my odds of killing the buck that I am looking for. Numerous times in the past I have only watched as the buck I was after passed by a stand that I wasn’t in because I was in the other. The next day I would move to that stand only to watch the buck cruise by the other. Very frustrating! So I got out of my stand and was able to kill that buck by stalking him two days later! My best whitetail to date!
Okay, focus Jared! Back to December 2012! It is hard not to reminisce about past hunts and fun times! So December 2012…..I started to hunt an area where I had seen good bucks in the past. An area that is often overlooked because many wouldn’t think this area holds the deer. At any rate I was in there again with an arrow nocked sneaking through the woods looking for a good buck. After a couple of days of hunting this area I had it narrowed down to 3 bucks nicknamed #1, #2, and #3. #1 was a stud 4×5 with an inside spread of at least 21” and the thickest palmated main beams I have ever seen! #2 was a 4×4 with exceptional mass and tall tines throughout. One brow tine had to be at least 12” and his G2’s had to be a solid 12” as well! #3 was a 6×7 with some really neat character. He was a main frame 5×5 with split brow tines and a kicker off of a G2. A great buck as well! I was hoping to get a chance at any of these bucks!
#1 gave me the slip numerous times and one evening I thought I had him but again gave me the slip. While backing out of the area I came face to face with #2 and I let him walk due to #1 being so fresh in my head! I am thinking that was a mistake! Oh well right!? #3 was showing signs of rutting activity and I passed him as well as I wanted him to breed the doe he was pushing.
Some days I would wait along a known travel corridor for the deer to begin to move. When they did I would usually make my move to position myself better or to close the distance. I am a spot and stalk hunter to the bone and that is how I was getting my chances at these 3 bucks mostly. I was also pairing that with still hunting. It goes something like this…..get the wind in your favor and start moving through known areas where the deer like to frequent. Go slow, very slow, one or two steps and glass into the trees hoping to get a glimpse of a deer. At that time if it was a deer I wanted I would change over to spot and stalk to close the distance. At times it can be frustrating because you may bump a doe and that doe may bump your buck but it is taking a chance. Hunting is the only time I gamble generally!
I may have put too much pressure on the area as the bigger bucks began to not show themselves. I have a sneaking suspicion that they went nocturnal and were onto me. This can happen very easily when these older bucks feel the pressure. I decided to give them a week to relax and went back after it.
The first morning in after a fresh snow and very chilly night I was able to sneak up a ridge in the darkness and position myself close to a known travel area. It didn’t take long for me to start seeing deer movement. It was #3 and he was pushing a doe again! I got down and belly crawled through the snow and got to a big pine and was able to stand alongside it. When I peeked around the tree he was coming at me with a doe in front of him. She turned and he stopped and rubbed his tarsal glands together at 45 yards. The doe moved off and he stood there broadside long enough for me to get an arrow nocked and move around the tree and come to full draw. Just as I was locking in my 40 yard pin he went back to chasing the doe! Aaaaahhhhhh…..
I quickly decided to kick it into full gear and move ahead of the deer. I knew where they were going to bed and I wanted to be there waiting for him! About an hour later I was creeping along to the edge of an open area where the deer usually move through. I picked out a thick cedar tree and broke a few branches and hid myself the best I could. A short time later I had slick heads moving past me at 10 yards. I could see the buck below about 125 yards away moving my way. The lead doe of 6 finally picked me out. No matter how hard I try I cannot look like a cedar tree! Someday I will figure it out! As they stood there doing their head bob action, stomping their feet and snorting at the odd looking addition to the cedar they finally moved past a little ways and stopped anywhere from 40 to 80 yards and kept looking back in my direction. #3 could see them and he too became cautious but he also had in his head that one of these does was the one he was chasing earlier and he wanted to find her! No complaints by me as he kept closing the distance until he walked right up to a doe that was standing at 41 yards. As soon as he looked away my Omen Pro came to full draw and I settling my 40 yard pin low on his vitals. Drawing back as slow as I could helped keep the does at bay long enough for the shot.
He didn’t even know what hit him. Snow, pine needles and dirt flew through the air as he headed back down the hillside on his death run! The arrow was a great double lung and he slowed to a walk 85 yards later and stopped. He was swaying side to side and I knew he would go down very soon! Then he bolted and was out of sight and in the trees. I quickly found my blood covered arrow and took up the trail in the fresh snow. Gotta love tracking a deer in the snow!
About 150 yards later I was following his tracks and spatters of blood and his prints became very unsteady in the snow. I knew I was getting close. Just a little ways later there he was piled up, lying motionless. I said a quick prayer and collected my prized posession. #3 was laid to rest! Unfortunately he had broke off both brow tines on one side and I didn’t see this until now. I wondered if he broke them off fighting or rubbing a tree, I will never know. I admired his rack and snapped a few pictures before deboning his meat, caping him out, and packing him into my pack for the hike back to the truck! Another later season whitetail hunt was a success!
Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren is a hardcore Do-It-Yourself bowhunter who strives to better himself each year in the outdoor community. As a professional hunter, freelance writer and photographer, he likes to relive his outdoor adventures through written expression and photography making the reader feel as if they were along on the hunt. He attributes much of his success to the vital education he has learned from the various big game animals that he hunts. He is quoted as saying, “In each and every hunt, success or defeat, I learn something from every outing and that I can put in my arsenal of knowledge to use at a later date, a later date that will again put my wits against that of my prey.”