Archery hunting during the deer rut — bowhunting advice from an expert
"If I had only three days to bow hunt this fall, it would be Nov. 6, 7 and 8. I'll be in the woods from dawn to dusk during those three days." – Mike Monteleone
In late October, I had the opportunity to discuss buck hunting during the rut with Mossy Oak pro staff member Mike Monteleone, a hunter who definitely knows what he is doing. Monteleone has several Pope and Young record bucks to his credit and hunts primarily in Maryland, southern Pennsylvania and Delaware. During our conversation, Monteleone covered scents, scouting, stand placement, and the use of decoys, among other topics. I'll touch on a few of these in today's post.
We had our first talk while he was driving home from one of his archery hunts. Last Thursday, a week following that interview, he harvested a heavy-antlered 9-point buck in northern Maryland. Monteleone offers advice that every archery hunter could use to his or her advantage. Monteleone is a firm believer in the effect of weather and moon phases on hunting.
"You don't have to be a trophy hunter to love the rut," Monteleone began. "It is a fact that you are just going to be seeing more bucks. It is a time when the bigger bucks are active during the daylight hours — the time that we are allowed to hunt."
Monteleone targets what he calls "pinch points" – areas where the natural topography or man-made factors funnel the deer into a narrow area. He is religious about scouting his prey and controlling his human scent. He is a master of using scouting, deer lures and decoys to his advantage.
"I have 15 different properties that I have permission to hunt. I keep trail cameras active on all of those 365 days a year," Monteleone explained. "Beginning about a week before the rut, I start checking those cameras every two days, because the bucks change their movement patterns for the rut. By the time November rolls around [based on trail camera scouting and visual sightings], I might only hunt on four or five of those properties.
"My perfect setup would be in a pinch point that lies between a doe bedding and a doe feeding area," he said.
He shared a story that illustrates how all of this comes together. Two Novembers ago he was hunting a favorite pinch point between a doe bedding area and a food plot when a large buck walked through at 4:05 p.m.. The buck was 40 yards away — too far away for an ethical shot.
Monteleone set up the next day at noon to intercept that trophy buck. He put out three decoys — a buck and two does.
"I moved 20 yards downwind of the pinch point and used a climber to make my new stand," he related. "I put out a freeze-dried buck tarsal gland and I sprayed doe-in-estrus scent on the rumps of the doe decoys."
Just like clockwork the big buck appeared at 4 o'clock and slowly walked into shooting range. Monteleone made a 10-yard shot and harvested a 141-inch Pope and Young trophy.
According to Monteleone, the only difference between the two days was stand placement and his use of doe decoys with doe-in-estrus lure.