How to Pull a Buck Away from a Doe
The scenario is all too common. A doe pops out of cover and she looks nervous. She keeps looking back into the woods when all of a sudden one of your target bucks comes out and starts chasing her. You can tell the doe isn’t working your direction, so what do you do? Pulling a buck away from the doe he is chasing is one of the most difficult situations you can face. The buck usually has his attention solely on the doe, and whatever move she makes, the buck will follow. Here are a few situations where you can actually divert the buck’s attention toward you and get him away from his sweetheart.
This time of year a buck’s testosterone is nearing its peak. When testosterone levels rise, so does aggression. If the buck thinks there is another buck in the area trying to steal his doe, he will get angry. You can use his anger against him by using a few short grunts followed by a snort-wheeze. This is a risky tactic because if this buck isn’t high in the dominance hierarchy, it could send him running. Don’t forget that antler size has less importance in a buck’s dominance hierarchy when compared to body size and fighting ability. If you happen to know that a certain buck has aggressive tendencies, you can be more aggressive with your calling. You really need to watch a buck’s ears to know how much attention he is paying to your calling. Just because a buck didn’t turn his head toward you does not mean he didn’t hear you. Sometimes a buck will not come to your calling immediately, but will remember where he heard sounds and come in to investigate later on.
Use a Buck Decoy
This tactic can work if the buck you are trying to pull from the doe can see the decoy, is close enough to feel threatened, and you have the wind in your favor. I wouldn’t try this tactic on public land, as it will draw more attention from hunters than other bucks. As for positioning, I suggest having the decoy pointed quartering toward you. Try to make the rear of the decoy face where you think a buck will be coming from, although bucks chasing does during the rut can enter a field anywhere. Most of the time, an approaching buck will posture and try to make himself look really big to his opponent, which gives you a shot opportunity when they try to swing in front of the decoy. Don’t let the buck get all the way to the decoy, because they will either smell some of your scent left on the decoy or they will attack it and run away when they realize it’s fake. Be prepared to set your decoy up after a non-target buck knocks it over.
Aggressive tactics don’t always work, but when they do work, it can be a very rewarding experience. If you find yourself feeling hopeless as a buck tends a doe near you, give these tactics a try. If he ignores your calling efforts, a last resort is to watch where they go and try to put a stalk on. Rutting bucks let their guard down during this time of year, so try to get downwind of them and approach from cover. Your goal at that point would be to get as close to the doe as possible without spooking anything. Don’t forget that even if a buck is locked down tightly with a doe, she will only be with him for a matter of a couple days, so try to catch him when he is on the lookout for another doe. There is nothing easier to call at than a mature buck in-between does in November.
Tim Neuman – Wildlife Biologist