As temperatures continue to fall, and the leaves begin changing in color, excitement builds for the wealth of bowhunting opportunity to follow in the weeks to come. The whitetail rut will be kicking into full gear within the next two weeks, bringing with it some of the best hunting of the season.
As bucks begin to seek actively does and the rut’s chasing phase commences, daylight deer sightings will increase to a significant degree.
Bucks also tend to let their guard down, which in turn makes them increasingly vulnerable to a hunter’s efforts.
As a result, those with a sound strategy in mind often find success during this remarkable period of the season.
The following are 5 tactics to help you make the most out of hunting the rut.
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Find The Does
During the rut, bucks travel extensively in order to locate does that are coming into estrus. As a result, hunters can often find success during this exciting time of season, solely by hunting areas where does are known to frequent (read.. 5 strategies for post-rut hunting).
Bucks will inevitably visit such locations on multiple occasions in the weeks to come.
Such areas that offer excellent potential include food plots, acorn rich oak flats, and standing grain fields. Once you have noted the presence of does in a given area, a stand can be hung, and hunting can commence.
However, patience is key when employing this strategy, as there is no guarantee as to when a buck will make his rounds in a bid to locate receptive does.
This can also be an excellent time to employ a trail camera, as any buck that is photographed is highly likely to make multiple appearances within a matter of days.
This provides hunters with the latest details of a particular buck’s whereabouts.
Hunt Bed To Feed Corridors
As mentioned, bucks spend a significant amount of their time cruising for does during the rut. To facilitate this process, bucks typically travel between doe bedding and feeding areas, often scent checking such locations as they go.
As a result, hunters can often find success by hunting along these travel corridors in hopes of intercepting a cruising buck.
This tactic can be especially deadly when employed in an area where does consistently bed in the same location. Bucks are keen on the presence of these regular bedding sites and will make such locations a priority in their daily travels.
Upon checking these bedding areas, bucks will often travel to any nearby prominent food sources.
Hunters who anticipate these travels, and hunt over pertinent trails and travel corridors, stand a high probability of crossing paths with numerous bucks.
This tactic also prevents a hunter from being skirted, if a particular buck scent checks a field, without ever stepping out into the open.
Hunt All Day
During the rut, bucks tend to remain on their feet, in search of does, for lengthy periods of time.
Rather than bedding during much of the midday period, bucks will continue to travel about, seeking does that are coming into heat.
In fact, it is not uncommon to observe a spike in buck movement around the noon hour, during the peak of the rut.
As a result, hunters who call their morning hunt to an early close often stifle their own chance at success. It can be of immense benefit to remain on stand from morning to evening, whenever possible.
This ensures that you do not miss out on any midday movement, which could ultimately present you with a shot opportunity.
However, it is vital to prepare yourself before striking out for an all-day sit on stand. Make sure that you have packed a lunch and some high energy snacks, such as granola bars.
Additionally, an ample ration of water should also be packed along to ensure that you stay adequately hydrated. One might also consider packing along with a set of hand warmers for added comfort.
Rattle Up A Buck
Bucks tend to be extremely territorial during the rut and will often jump at any available chance to stake their dominance.
As a byproduct of this aggression, bucks will regularly lock antlers in a territorial dispute. This can be a sight to behold, and bucks of a given area will often make their way to the sound of clashing antlers to observe the scene.
This comes as a natural response of sorts, as bucks seize upon any opportunity to sort out their pecking order.
However, this also exposes a vulnerability that can be exploited by crafty hunters. Rattling antlers can be used to simulate a fight, often evoking the same curious response from bucks within earshot.
Rattling tends to be most effective during the pre-rut period, which falls during the last couple of weeks in October, in most areas of the nation.
One can also rattle periodically throughout the day, in order to ensure that transient bucks are afforded the opportunity to hear and respond to your efforts.
Fool A Buck’s Nose
Whitetail deer have a remarkable sense of smell, which they rely upon heavily to avoid danger.
However, bucks also use their sense of smell during the rut to locate does who are, or soon will be, coming into heat. This practice allows bucks to tend to does in the most effective manner possible.
A hunter can use this knowledge to their advantage by using estrous urine products to entice bucks into range.
These products can be applied to a scent wick that is to be hung within bow range or can be applied directly to the ground with the use of a scent drag.
In the majority of instances, passing bucks will approach this scent, in an attempt to locate its source.
This tactic can be used at any point during the rut and applies to nearly any situation. It is not uncommon to witness multiple bucks visiting a site of this nature on any given day.
The use of an estrous based scent also provides a hunter with the ability to lure unsuspecting bucks to a predetermined location, where the best possible shot opportunity presents itself.
Making The Most Out Of The Rut
While the rut offers significant opportunity for all hunters, one must still exercise caution, and employ a sound strategy in order to find success.
By utilizing the above-mentioned tactics in the weeks to come, you will be poised to make the most out of hunting this year’s whitetail rut.