Ask most any deer hunter what weeks they prefer to hunt the most, and you’ll probably hear about days in the month of November. The rutty bucks of November tend to get all the love and respect by most hunters. But truth be known, there are other times that can prove to be more consistent when it comes to killing a good buck year after year.
Just ask Todd Graf. In case you missed it, Graf just killed a beautiful Illinois buck. It was the kind of heavyweight buck we dream about all year long.
Was it just another coincidental encounter that Todd lucked up on? Hardly.
In fact, Todd had pretty much predicted that a good buck was about to meet its maker on the evening of his hunt. The last two weeks of October have consistently been the best two weeks of the year for Graf. Here’s a look at why these weeks are some of his favorite each hunting season.
Todd’s hunt found him sitting over a food plot for an afternoon of keeping an eye on a blend of brassicas and clover that several good bucks had been feeding on after dark.
But this wasn’t just any food plot. This food plot was chosen by Graf because it was pretty much the first stop deer will make as they make their way from the bedding area 250 yards away. Through Stealth Cam intel, Todd had been watching these bucks pushing closer and closer to the food plot shortly after dark. He knew it was just a matter of time before they made their first appearance in daylight hours.
Experience has revealed that the last two weeks of October is when these homebody bucks will begin to start popping out around the food plots, with a little bit of shooting light still lingering.
A buck named, Hacksaw, was one of a couple bucks Graf was suspecting to be hanging fairly close to the bedding area near the food plot. It was just enough of a hunch to keep hunting the area when the winds allowed him to do so.
Todd had encounters with the buck over the last two years and was feeling good that he was tightening up on the buck’s core area. And sure enough, well before dark, Hacksaw showed up in the food plot with another buck.
The buck fed past Graf’s stand giving him a perfect, 17 yard shot.
“I’ve killed some of my best bucks between October 15th and 27th,” says Graf. “They are still on their day to day routine for the most part at this time of year, and it just makes for one of the best times to make your move before the rut kicks in and your home bucks leave in search of does.”
Initially, Graf felt pretty good that his shot would do the trick. However, after further review, the shot was low and further back, missing the heart. He wanted to give the buck plenty of time and decided to put tracking dogs to work on the trail the following morning. He ultimately landed a contact with Tracker John and his hound to help with the job of recovering the buck.
After covering far more ground than they originally expected, the crew was glad to have Tracker John and his hound along for the search.
Some 24 hours after the buck was shot, the team finally found the buck and the celebration began. It was a bittersweet ending to another 3rd quarter October buck hunt that paid off big.