By Roger Mitchell | November 2, 2022
Every deer hunter out there loves to hunt when the magical time of the year comes for us, The Rut. This is when you can make them big mature bucks slip up and come right into range for a chance to harvest a mature buck. I’m going to break down our favorite ways to hunt the rut.
#1 Pre Rut
The Pre-Rut can be just as magical as the rut. This is when bucks are patrolling hard and looking for a hot doe and really, just covering some ground. This time of the year is when you usually will see bucks that you haven't had on camera all year.
I like to run scrape lines close to my stands. In this phase the bucks are scraping and rubbing all over to mark their territories and will check the hot scrapes more often. I run scent drippers over mock scrapes or on actual scrapes, this makes these scrapes seem like they are getting more action than they are. I will run some buck urine and estrous in these to make it seem like the bucks and does are hitting them.
I have had great luck in the Pre-Rut using this technique and placing my stands strategically in the middle of these scrape lines. I also like to be aggressive with rattling horns during this phase. As a lot of bucks are fighting for their areas, and this will let other bucks know there are two bucks fighting triggering them to come see who’s in their areas.
#2 Peak Rut
When the Rut action gets full blown and bucks are running hard all day long, this will make a long sit totally worth it within minutes. I like to do my all day sits during the rut and stay close to some bedding locations. These bedding locations will hold the does, and where there are does, there will be bucks. This is the best time to pack a lunch and stay all day if possible. Lots of mature bucks hit the ground in the middle of the day, when there normally wouldn't be much action. Especially if you are near a food source, these does will be getting pushed hard and will be attempting to eat whenever they aren't being chased. I will continue to run my scent drippers and call aggressively during this phase to try and catch the attention of a cruising buck. This can be a tough time to pattern a buck, since they have a high chance of being locked down with a mature doe. So, the more time in the tree the better.
Get aggressive on the calls, sit as long as possible, and get to where the does will be and you should have a good chance of harvesting a trophy deer.
#3 Post Rut
The Post Rut will have most bucks back searching and roaming. They will get off that doe that's had them locked down and start prowling. There will also be younger doe coming in during this time and continue to have bucks looking. Food sources are huge in this phase, these bucks haven't focused on eating during the heavy rut and are now looking to eat.
If you can legally bait in your states this would be the time to get it piled up in your area or to hunt the natural food sources near you. I will still try calling during this phase but I'm not aggressive with it. I try and focus on food sources and bedding grounds in this phase and try and slip in there. You can still sit all day during this period and have a high chance of action in them midday times, since these bucks can still be searching hard.
I have personally had the most success on food sources around this phase due to bucks finally wanting to eat and does coming to the food and bringing the boys with them.
These phases can all be just as successful for you, but they all have their benefits that I tried to cover in this. These are just some tips that I have for this magical time of the year and most of us deer hunters favorite time to be in a tree! I hope these tips can help you be more successful in the field and harvest that buck that is a trophy to you!