Five Great Tips for Rut Deer Hunting
There is nothing more exciting for a deer hunter than the rut. It’s like the Super Bowl of the deer hunting woods. We all have heard stories about the woods exploding with deer movement and the fact that anything could happen at any time. While that is all true, there are a few things you can do to better your odds of putting a new buck on the wall during the rut this year.
Tips 1: Save your best spots for deer hunting rut.
This is probably one of the hardest things to do as a deer hunter, especially if you only have a few small places to hunt. If you need to hunt at the beginning of the season, I suggest you only hunt it once or twice early, then stay out. Nothing ruins a hunting spot faster than too much pressure on the deer. Sure, you can bump into them once or twice, but if it’s a frequent occasion, they will move to a different location where they feel safe. There are a few ways to help keep the pressure off your best spots while still being able to hunt. The first is to hunt public land. It may see pressure, but most public land areas are large enough to be able to find unpressured deer. Another great way to keep pressure off your main spots is to scout out new areas and get permission. There is no better scouting than in-season scouting in a new place. Lastly, you can scout from a distance. This will get you time in the woods while not pressuring your deer.
Tips 2: Sit all-day
This sounds easy, but if you have ever done it, you know how much of a challenge it can be. From fighting boredom when it’s slow to fighting cold temperatures, it can be a challenge. There are a few things you can do to make your all-day sits more bearable. The first is to pack enough layers to keep you warm; some of the best clothing I have found to use during the rut deer hunting is TideWe’s heated clothing. The next thing is to pack small power snacks like nuts and protein bars. This will come in handy when fighting hunger and get you through the day. Lastly, I like to take a power pack to keep my phone charged. This will help pass the time till things pick up. Just remember, things can go from dead to action-packed in the blink of an eye.
Tips 3: Be where the rut bucks want to be.
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but let me explain. If you have a 30-acre wood and put hunters on opposite sides of it to hunt during the rut, there’s a good chance you will hear 2 very different stories of deer movement. One guy will swear that every buck in a 5-mile radius went past his stand, while the other guy will swear it’s still early because all he saw was a single doe. This is because all the bucks will be keyed in on the hot doe, and she won’t travel far unless she’s spooked. You might ask how you find these areas. There are a few different ways:
Nothing beats good old-fashioned scouting. Either from an observational sit or glassing from afar, I like to locate areas with a high doe presence because this is where the bucks will want to be.
- Utilize cell cameras in areas you want to monitor for that first doe to show signs it’s getting close. With cell cameras, you can monitor any location you want and only go in when the time is right.
- If you are hunting and can see all the deer 100 yards away, don’t be afraid to get up and move.
The last thing you want to do is gamble on whether that doe will bring him past you for a shot, and with that in mind, make a move. If there ever was a time you could get away with movement, now, is it. Don’t sell yourself short on what-ifs, and make the move to capitalize on the shot.
Tips 4: Capitalize on terrain features.
When I think of the perfect rut location, some sort of terrain feature always comes to mind. Use these things to your advantage, whether it be a buck bed off a finger of timber or an elevation change. My two favorite terrain features to hunt for the rut are pinch points and funnels. The main reason for this is that they both force deer into a small location, giving me the best opportunity to capitalize. I found these areas by scouting and looking at a topo map. Once I find these areas, I usually try to locate where the doe bedding is in relation to the terrain feature. This is important because as the rut starts to ramp up and bucks start cruising, they will scent check doe bedding from downwind. If you can set up on a good pinch point downwind of the doe bedding, you should have a chip shot at any buck scent checking that area.
Tips 5: Don’t give up.
This last one is tough. If you’re anything like me, you will ease into the hunting season as it opens only hunting major cold fronts or buck you have patterned. But once October 20th gets here, it is game on. Every day that I can hunt, I am in the woods. I put everything else on the back burner. If I can sit all day, that’s where you will find me. At the beginning of the rut, I’m ecstatic, ready to hit the woods. Nothing can distract me. By the time the second week of November gets here, it can really start to take its toll. You will be worn down physically and mentally, tired, and ready to call it quits. My advice to you is DON’T. I have had those days where it’s picture perfect for deer movement, and you return home without seeing a deer, but I have also had the days where I see every buck in a 1-mile radius from my stand. This is why I say to stick it out.
Just remember, bucks will move more in daylight during the rut than any other time of year.