Ask most bowhunters across southern Oklahoma and North Texas what’s the best time of the year to climb into a treestand to chase the monster buck of their dreams and the answer will most often be next month’s rut.

Ask most bowhunters across southern Oklahoma and North Texas what’s the best time of the year to climb into a treestand to chase the monster buck of their dreams and the answer will most often be next month’s rut.


Realtree.com whitetail deer hunting editor Tony Hansen, a Michigan man who loves to chase public land bucks in the Midwest, disagrees.


To a point, that is.


Because for all of the thrills that a hunter can experience during the peak of the rut, Hansen maintains in a Realtree.com news release that the good stuff — the last few days of October — is "can’t miss" material for a died-in-the-wool big buck bowhunter.


"When we’re talking about the "pre-rut," we’re generally referring to the last two weeks of October," said Hansen in the Realtree news release (www.realtree.com ).


"The first few days of that time period can seem a whole lot like the early season, when food sources are still key.


"But things change fast as Halloween approaches. The does aren’t really hot to trot just yet, but they are very close. And the bucks can hardly contain themselves."


The late Forrest "Junior" Robertson found that out in a big way in the waning days of October 1995 when he heard the faint noise of deer moving behind his treestand here in Grayson County.


When the late Sherman traditional bowhunter let his arrow fly, the result was the tagging of a massive 200 5/8-inch net non-typical buck at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.


At the time, the Robertson buck was the largest to ever be harvested in Grayson County and one of the "Top 3" Pope & Young Club non-typicals to ever be harvested in Texas. (Editor’s Note: Robertson’s massive Boone & Crockett buck was the first of that season’s two "Hagerman Hatrack" bucks that would score over 200-inches. Dodd City hunter Donnie Brewer arrowed the second of those B&C bucks a few weeks later).


So what’s the key to hunting this pre-rut period of late October? Simply being there says Hansen. "There is one key to pre-rut hunting: hit it hard when those first few does are on the verge of coming into heat," he said.


Where should a bowhunter place his or her stand as October draws to a close? Hansen advises hunters to target heavily trafficked areas that are close to dense cover.


"You still can’t go barging into sanctuary and bedding areas, but you can strategically hunt near them," said Hansen. "When hunting heavily pressured deer, you are constantly orchestrating the perfect balancing act. You want to maintain areas of security so deer will continue to use them. But you need to hunt near them to get a shot."


How do you accomplish this?


"I’m going to spend the majority of my time in funnel areas along habitat edges, where two types of cover conjoin," said Hansen. "And I’m going to sit there all day."


Why is that? Because timing is everything during the last few days of October.


"Mature bucks in heavily-hunted areas learn the behaviors of hunters," explained Hansen. "They know when, and when not, to be on their feet.


"They’ve learned through experience that early mornings and late afternoons often mean human intrusion. They’ve also learned that midday means far less human activity."


In addition to hunting midday hours, Hansen also likes to hunt during midweek.


"If you hunt public land or heavily-hunted private lands, I’d make sure to be on stand Oct. 29-30," he said.


"That’s a Tuesday-Wednesday combination. My hunt records show that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the least-hunted days of the week. And that’s when I want to be in the woods. Because I’m pretty sure the deer don’t know it’s not quite November just yet.


Because the cruising bucks of late October are susceptible to calling — and rattling — Hansen always makes sure he’s got one item tucked away in his hunting pack.


"Right now, I won’t hit the woods without a grunt tube," said Hansen. "Most of the bucks I’ll spot during the next few weeks will be cruising in search of does. Predicting exactly which trail they’ll use in the thick cover that I prefer to hunt is a crapshoot.


"But if I see that buck, I feel my odds of calling it into range are pretty good."


Which helps explain why the last few days of October are one of the season’s best opportunities to tag a big, mature whitetail.


The kind of multi-tined monster buck that would make any Halloween hunter literally turn green with envy.