Hunting the Pre-Rut
Archery season has finally arrived in many states. Some hunters look to the rut period as a time for having the greatest success. There are many hunters, however, who look forward to the pre-rut period as an excellent time to harvest the buck of their choice. To hunt the pre-rut, there are a number of tactics that you may want to employ in order to be successful.
Now is the time to begin using the information that you have gleaned from your pre-season scouting and trail cameras in order to begin to identify when and where to find the buck you will hunt. During this period, bucks are regularly using common travel routes to begin to establish their territorial areas and are likely doing so during the daylight hours. Your trail cam pics will help you to identify the general time of day and direction that a buck is traveling through a specific area. Look for scrapes and rub lines along these routes as they are an indicator that a buck is claiming that space as his territory, and he will regularly visit to freshen-up the scrape or rub with his scent.
Be aware of how much you are encroaching upon the deer's territory. It is critical during this time to stay as scent-free as possible and to not disturb the deer in their natural routine. If you continue to use trail cameras, only check them at times that you are in the woods hunting. Take great care in entering and exiting the woods as covertly as possible. Making certain that you enter the woods well before daylight and exit well after dark will help you to prevent being seen; using a cover scent or doing your best to be scent-free will help you to prevent being winded. While doe-in-estrous scents can be extremely helpful during the rut, the pre-rut is a time when using different types of buck scents carries a greater chance of bringing him in to take a look at who is invading his space.
The pre-rut is a great time to call deer in to you. Rattling and grunting can be very effective at luring a buck in to see who is encroaching upon his territory. Some light rattling and grunting is most likely all you will need. Keep in mind, a buck that comes in to a rattle or grunt call is on high alert as opposed to a buck that is passing through during his regular routine. Make sure that you are extra careful in the minutes following a rattle/grunt session to be quiet and still. If a buck is close to your location, he may be upon you before you realize it.
The pre-rut can be a time that is just as effective as the rut for harvesting your dream buck. You may find that this period is one of the most enjoyable times during the fall to be in the woods in pursuit of the ever elusive whitetail.
As always, be safe and shoot straight.