Keys to Hunting the Rut
The Rut is Here
For a majority of those who hunt whitetail deer, the rut period is often the most exciting time to be in the woods. The chances of seeing mature bucks during the daytime in areas where does frequent are highly increased. For those still left in the hunt, here are some tips and strategies that will help you to hunt the rut period more effectively.
During the rut, bucks will leave the home area where they have spent a majority of the year and will seek out other areas that have dense doe populations. If you can find the area of your hunting land where the does spend the most time, then you will likely find bucks frequenting that area this time of year. If you have had trail cameras set up at stands and other places on your property, determine which locations have yielded the greatest number of pictures of doe activity during the past few weeks and choose those areas to hunt. Wind direction and proximity to common doe feeding and bedding areas are other factors that you should consider when choosing a set up location.
During the weeks leading up to the rut period, you will likely see areas on trees where bucks have rubbed the bark with their antlers. Bucks rub trees in the early season to remove the velvet from their antlers when growth of the rack is complete. During the rut, bucks rub trees to display their physical prowess to potential mates and also to deposit unique scent markers onto the tree from glands in their foreheads. Look for rubbed trees that have a diameter of four inches or greater because mature bucks will create rubs on trees this size. A freshly rubbed tree indicates that a buck has recently been in the area, and it is highly likely that the buck will return to the tree to deposit more scent. Setting up a stand location near this tree will help to increase your chances of seeing the buck and of ultimately getting a shot at him.
One of the most exciting aspects of the rut is that mature bucks will move during the day to find does. This greatly increases your chances of seeing mature bucks during the middle part of the day. If your hunting routine includes coming out of your stand for lunch during the afternoon, you should consider making plans to take food with you and stay in your stand for the whole day, when possible. Also, be persistent in hunting the same stand location for multiple days. Sooner or later the buck you are hunting will return to the area to re-deposit his scent on a rub or to seek out does that are frequenting your spot.