As every deer hunter knows, the whitetail rut season offers some of the best opportunities to bag that trophy buck. During the rut, the bucks begin to get restless, moving around more during the daylight hours in search of their mates, and are generally less cautious in their movements than they are before and after the rut season. The bucks change their habits during this special time, and that means you need to change your strategy and tactics. Learn some of the fundamentals of whitetail behavior during the mating season and you'll have a much better chance of success.
Phases Of The Rut
There are really three different phases to the whitetail mating season, the pre-rut, the full-blown rut and then after the rut. Good whitetail hunting can be had during any of these phases if you adapt to their changing behavior. There is no set date that the rut season begins, it is predicated on the length of daylight and the outside temperatures in your area and will vary from year to year. It will generally begin in early to mid-autumn, and you can check your local resources and ask your fellow hunters to get a handle on how the deer are acting. During the transition from pre-rut to the full rut, bucks will start moving during the day and become more aggressive with other males. This is also when they will start freshening up their tree rubs and ground scrapes. Using these clear signs of a bucks activity will allow you to track their movement patterns and determine the best places to put up your stand.
Follow The Does And The Food
During the whitetail rut season, bucks will be somewhat preoccupied with finding the does, but they also still need to eat, as do the girls, so you need to pay attention to where the deer are going to feed. This is the time of year, right around the first frost of the season, when the deer will start to change over from mast foods like acorns to the planted grains such as soybeans and corn. Having a good understanding of the property you hunt and where the feeding areas are is a must. Don't be afraid of moving your stand to follow the deer as the season progresses, and remember the big bucks will be following the doe.
Deer Hunting Scents Are A Powerful Tool
When does come into their estrus cycle during the rut, they emit a distinctive odor that bucks, with their highly-developed sense of smell, use to zero in on their mates. There are many good estrus scents on the market these days, and you can use them to your advantage to fool a wary buck into strolling by your stand. You can also make use of fake scrapes. Males mark their territory by scraping the leaves off of the ground and urinating on these scrapes, much the same way dogs and cats do. By creating your own scrape with the appropriate scent, especially if you make one next to an existing scrape, you can convince a buck that some other male is encroaching on his turf, and he will begin roaming the area and checking his scrapes more frequently on the lookout for competition.
Deer Calls Are Effective
In addition to his sense of smell, a buck will begin paying attention to the vocalizations of the doe, and also be keeping an ear out for the grunts and snorts of other bucks. This is when calls and rattling antlers can be very effective, either to trick a buck into thinking an available doe is nearby, or that a rival is around that needs to be challenged. Start using these tools sparingly during the pre-rut, and increase your efforts as the season progresses. Do some research on the best ways to utilize scents and calls and you can greatly increase your chances of success.
Rut season is arguably the best time to score your trophy buck. Learn the basics of whitetail behavior and make use of all the tools at your disposal and you're certain to have a great hunt.
Leader Bowhunting supplies and bowhunting gear for 35+ years