Q How do you account for variability in roe rut stalking? Two years ago, I could have called them in from the supermarket car park; last year nothing went right. How do I ensure this year is one of the good ones?
A Dominic says: In my experience, one of the main influences on what comes to the call is timing. Earlier in the rut, the aggressive middle-aged bucks are likely to charge in to investigate any incursion to their territory. So too will wandering bucks respond – again, they are likely to be younger rather than older. It is only towards the latter part of the rut, typically in the first week of August, that an old buck can be coaxed from his couch with any degree of certainty.
While the speed at which they approach is no guarantee of age or youth, there is a certain rule of thumb that seems to hold true. Generally speaking, an old buck who knows his territory well and all the various trails around will approach with more caution, frequently using the wind to positively identify the curious sound emanating from your chosen device. In that way, it must be the case that a ‘no show’ is probably not what it seems, and could be that the buck has circumnavigated you at distance in the undergrowth, smelt something worrying and drifted away. In calling it is important to select a position that gives you as good a view as is possible, and then wait long enough to give the opportunity for a cautious buck to approach.
That said, there are several factors – including weather and temperature – that you have no control over and yet have a huge effect. Good luck out there.