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Bucks are ready to break out

Over the course of the next week, bow hunters will have an opportunity rarely seen in Minnesota – the chance to hunt a portion of the rut before the start of firearms season.

The gun season normally falls on the first Saturday in November. If you hunt in an area that sees a lot of pressure like me, you know that the chances of seeing a big buck within bow range after that become a lot less likely.

The big guys seem to disappear once the first shots ring out and the parties start pushing through the woods. That’s why I circled this next week on my calendar back in July when I saw that the gun season falls on November 9.

That’s allowed me to be a little pickier every time I’ve taken the stand so far this fall. The good news is that I have already seen plenty of deer. Almost every doe has had twins by her side, which is great to see after the long winter that stretched into April.

I saw eight young bucks and more than 20 does and fawns during a morning hunt on October 13. The biggest was a small eight pointer that I passed up at 10 yards. The bucks were definitely trying to establish a pecking order with a group of fork horns chasing each other amongst the handful of does that were with them.

This past weekend would provide a greater indication of exactly where the bigger bucks are in their pre-rut cycle. I settled into my climbing stand overlooking a dry riverbed near the Yellow Medicine River at around 4:15 on Saturday afternoon. 

It hadn’t been 15 minutes before I heard the crunching of leaves coming from behind me. I turned my head to look over my right shoulder at what I expected to be a doe. Instead, it was a nice 10-pointer only 15 yards away. I waited for his head to go down before I stood up and turned. By that time, he had already slipped through my shooting lane and into some thick cover.

Disappointing, sure, but the fact that a buck like that was on his feet at 4:30 in the afternoon was a good sign. I then found a fresh scrape right below my stand on Sunday that hadn’t been there the day before. Both of these seem to indicate that things are about to heat up any day now.

The bucks are getting ready to move before the first shot of a firearm rings out. The week that many of us have had circled on our calendars for months is finally here. Time to take advantage of it.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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