Some say December is the most wonderful time of the year, but most bowhunters would argue in favor of November. You can’t go wrong with phenomenal cold fronts and an abundance of rut-crazed whitetails zigzagging the woods. Well-known bowhunter Fred Eichler agrees.
“November is a magic month,” Eichler said. “If you polled 100 bowhunters and asked what month they would like to hunt whitetails if they could only choose one, it would be November. November is the prime time for targeting mature bucks focused on breeding.”
Eichler stars in the “Everything Eichler” TV show on the Sportsman Channel and is a published author and outdoor freelance writer. He regularly shares his bowhunting knowledge and was the first to complete the North American Super Slam of all 29 big-game species recognized by the Pope and Young Club using a traditional bow. He lives in Colorado and spends most of the year guiding hunting trips at his family-owned business, Fulldraw Outfitters, with his wife and three boys.
Eichler has killed whitetails in 25 states, and he said 60% to 70% of the mature bucks he’s taken with a bow have been in November.
In November, bucks are at the peak of the rut in most states. They travel regularly, often over longer distances, to search for estrous does. Those “on the move” deer allow bowhunters to see bucks that might not typically be in their core hunting area. That’s Eichler’s favorite aspect of bowhunting in November. He also said November is the best month to employ numerous hunting strategies.
Because bucks are constantly cruising, Eichler likes to pre-scout to find popular active deer travel routes to increase his chances of encountering a mature buck that might not have been seen in the area before.
He also knows November is a hot month for deer interactions and communications. They connect through signpost communications like rubs and scrapes, as well as vocal communications like doe bleats, buck grunts and snort wheezes. Throughout the month, Eichler uses a mix of game calls, decoys, scents and rattling antlers to imitate deer and entice them to within bow range.
“Many hunters are now recognizing the effectiveness of using decoys during the rut, as it can attract whitetails that travel long distances to investigate,” he said. “I have used decoys to help me and many clients harvest whitetails over the years with great success. Additionally, using scents can also be beneficial during November hunts.”
As a favorite setup, Eichler uses the Montana Decoy Estrus Betty or Trixie Doe decoy coated with the ConQuest VS-1 deer attractant to lure bucks in close in November. He also doe bleats to complete the illusion. Appealing to two or three senses creates a more realistic setup than using one tool individually.
“Decoys and scent, similar to grunting, wheezing and calling, do not work all the time, but my philosophy is, it is better to have it and not use it than need it and not have it,” he said.
In addition to finding a well-used trail and using scents, decoys and game calls, Eichler watches the weather to select stand locations and the ideal days to hunt. He believes the best bowhunting weather conditions in November are “little to no moon on an overcast day right before or after a storm.”
Stay tuned for next month’s article, where we’ll interview another hunting icon to get in-depth details on all-things-whitetail-bowhunting in December.