Story by Tom Pagliaroli

It’s the two-to-three week period when a whitetail buck goes lust loco, puts caution in the wind as he eagerly sniffs for receptive does and becomes, for lack of a better description, downright dumb.


Yeah, that too.

The urge to merge will do that to ya!

The magical primary mating period, however briefly, switches the odds in the bowhunter’s favor when it comes to putting the sight on a buck, be it a precocious spike meant for the freezer or a rocking chair racker destined for the wall.

Yeah, there is a secondary and even a tertiary rutting period, as not all does come into estrus at the same time. These can occur in late November through December, and yes, the bucks are always looking to hook up. However, they have resumed being cautious, but this is offset somewhat by their need to feed frequently in order to restore weight lost during the night and light dosey doe chases. As such, they’ll feed at all hours of the day and can appear at any time, not just the prime daylight and sunset times.

Advantage, hunter.

These next few weeks, scent really comes into play, not only masking human odor but serving as an attractant to a lovesick buck. Doe urine-based aromas will get the attention of wandering bucks, and they’ll home on the air or ground trail, hopefully bringing them within range. There are myriad brands with varying formulas on dealer shelves and pegboards, and utilized properly, all will work. Our tried-and-true faves are the Redneck’s Pride “TC Plus” and “Autumn Rut” (

Turkey Time: The autumn turkey season kicks off half-hour before sunrise tomorrow and extends through half-hour after sunset, November 3. That’s two full Saturdays to hunt in addition to the five weekdays. Permits ($22) are still available for all the zones statewide, and the prospectus is excellent.

Permits can be purchased at license-issuing agents or online at

“Plenty of birds out there. And with toms and hens both being legal quarry, well, it shouldn’t be difficult tagging the main course for Thanksgiving dinner,” says Tony McBride, the wild turkey project leader for the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Unlike the April/May gobbler season when the males are called into what they expect is a horny hen, the fall season entails hiking through the woods and field edges, encountering a flock of birds and then giving chase, causing them to run, fly and otherwise scatter wildly. Then it’s a matter of picking a comfortable spot, waiting anywhere from 20 to 30 or so minutes, and then giving a few “comeback” calls. Autumn turkeys are a gregarious bunch, and this time of the year, it’s a safety in numbers dealio. The birds will start responding to the “I’m over here” overtures in order to regroup. Hit the right tones, and all of a sudden you can have a dozen or more turkeys coming at you. Oh yeah, it is exciting.

The daily bag limit is one turkey (hen or gobbler), per permit, but only one can be taken on a given day.

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