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Q: If I am hunting in north Florida what time would i have the most success at getting a shot at a larger buck i have watched for years in the morning or afternoon, also what would be my best attractant hunting clear cut pines by a swamp?

A: #1 It's a country wide fact that big bucks are at their most vulnerable during the rut. Not knowing what area of North Florida you're in, I can't tell you when the peak rut activity will be, but if you check the current issue of Woods & Water, you'll find the rut listings by region, that ought to get you in the right time frame.

Planted pines along the edge of a swamp? One of my favorite types of edges. Deer naturally travel these edges between the cover and I bet if you check the area you'll discover a scrape or two.

Using your best scent control methods, I'd advise a drag rag liberally soaked in a doe-in-heat lure. As a kid, I was privy to learn that tactic from an old Alabama boy named Ben Lee. Ben told me to tie off the rag to my boot and just walk along the edges, like you've described, until I get to my treestand which ideally should be placed overlooking an active trail in an area of scraping activity.

Just let that drag rag toss and flop along behind you and freshen it up with a few more drops of the lure every hundred yards or so. Once at your stand, hang the drag rag from a limb and liberally soak it again with the doe-in-heat lure.

Many times I've witnessed bucks slowly working their way along my back trail following the estrous scent of what they expected was a real doe in heat. Few escaped a ride home in the back of the truck.

I've used the same tactic with pure vanilla extract during the pre and post rut and have killed deer and hogs that way as well.

As far as morning versus evening; that's a tough one. I rely heavily upon the moons position to dictate whether I key in on the morning or evening hunt. However, during the rut, a big buck can be found at most anytime of the day as they're bound to travel about checking their scrape lines and seeking a willing doe.

Best of luck on your big buck quest!

Toby Benoit


A: #2 James, it has been my experience that even large and unpredictable bucks can be patterned. If I were in your position, I would sit down and try to recall the times of day I saw this buck and the locations where I saw him. Plot them on a map. This will give you a fairly good idea as to his daily movements, the location of his core area and when he's most likely to move. By trying to pattern this deer, you will have the best chance at figuring out when to sit and wait on him

As for attractants, this time of year in the panhandle, deer are mostly in a feeding cycle. Bucks in N. Florida don't really start the pre-rut until sometime in late December or even mid to late January. If you are to use any attractant this time of year, you'd be best to go with a curiosity scent or food scent. What ever you use, it should be natural to your area. I would use either an acorn or corn scent. If you can use baits where you hunt, you may want to think about setting up a feeding station and a mineral lick in the area you've seen this deer. Some of the products I've used with some success are Acorn Rage and C'Mere Deer, as well as red trace mineral mixed with Deer Cocain.

The best advise I can give you is to spend as much time in the woods as you can, be mindful of wind direction and scent control, and look for entry and exit points on the clearcut where you've seen him.

It's hot right now and movement will be mostly at night and during twilight hours. If you hunt a well pressured area, you may want to hunt when others aren't hunting. Many big bucks have been killed during the times when there are little to no hunters in the woods. Deer can pattern us as well as we pattern them, so be unconventional.

As you get closer towards the pre-rut and rut, hunt the does in his area. As he starts to get love happy, he's going to be chasing those does around and will eventually follow one out into your sights.

If you want a more in depth answer, I'll need a lot more information. Feel free to contact me directly at (813) 918-7610 or via email at [email protected] Best of luck on scoring this buck.

Happy hunting,

Chuck Echenique


A: #3 If you own a game camera, I would put it out and see “when” the buck walks by your camera setup. That way you can start to learn his patterns.

I would use any brand of doe-in-heat and use it during the pre-rut and rut in your area.

Tony Young-FWC Media Relations Director