3 Tips to Rule Post-Rut Whitetail Hunting

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The days of seeing rutting bucks feverishly chase does and carelessly show themselves in the daylight have passed. Though the breeding season is done, you can still fill your tag.

The rut gets a lot of hype, but the late season – usually called “post-rut” – is one of the best times to be out in the woods. Hunting the rut is about spending time in the woods and hoping a buck chases a doe by your stand. While the breeding season creates a lot of sporadic deer movement, the post-rut resembles the early season when deer are more predictable and easier to pattern.

Three Simple Tips for Post-Rut Patterning

Find Food Sources

If you find their preferred food sources, you’ll find the deer. You can hunt deer right at the food source or while they’re traveling to the food. Photo Credit: John Hafner

Identifying winter food sources is one key to patterning late-season deer. With the long, cold winter months approaching, deer feed heavily to store up fat. If you find their preferred food sources, you’ll find the deer. You can hunt deer right at the food source or while they’re traveling to the food.

Some examples of winter food are wheat, turnips, acorns and anything that remains green. If you’re hunting in suburban areas, this is when landscaping becomes a deer buffet. These food sources will vary depending on your area. If you have trouble identifying what the deer are eating, try asking the experts at your local archery shop what the deer prefer to eat where you live.

Locate Travel Areas

Deer like to take paths of least resistance when traveling to food. Use that trait to your advantage. Photo Credit: John Hafner

One of the best aspects of hunting on snowy winter days is that you can easily spot deer tracks. Once-hidden deer highways suddenly become obvious. If you don’t have fresh snow on the ground, keep in mind that deer like to take paths of least resistance when traveling to food. Use that trait to your advantage by selecting fence crossings or pinch points created by terrain.

For example, check out every dip or “saddle” in a ridgeline. Because these low points create easy travel routes to a ridge’s higher portions and force deer to walk through a small area, saddles often create excellent ambush opportunities. Likewise, three- or four-strand barbed wire fences with a missing strand or collapsed section create funnels deer can’t resist

Identify Bedding Areas

Typically, deer will stay in or near their bedding area during midday and leave close to dusk. The closer you hunt to a bedding area, the greater your chances of seeing a deer while the sun is up. Photo Credit: John Hafner

Short winter days can present a challenge because there is less time to hunt. If you’re having trouble getting within bow range during daylight, try hunting near bedding areas. Deer bed in cover such as thick brush or tall weeds, as well as low-hanging boughs of cedars, spruce and other conifers.

Typically, deer will stay in or near their bedding area during midday and leave close to dusk. The closer you hunt to a bedding area, the greater your chances of seeing a deer while the sun is up. Be cautious because bedding areas are the deer’s home turf. Take extra care to watch the wind and avoid getting spotted.

Late-season hunting brings cold weather and opportunities for last-minute success. Buy some cold weather camo and pattern the deer before you hunt to fill your freezer.


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