How to Hunt the Rut

The rut is an exciting but unpredictable time of year to hunt whitetails. It’s exciting because you can see bucks fighting, vocalizing and running around in broad daylight. It’s unpredictable because you never know when the next flurry of activity will happen.

Usually, deer are most active around sunrise and sunset, but during the rut, you are just as likely to see them in the middle of the day. That’s why it’s a good idea to hunt all day to better your odds.

Focus on where the does are and the bucks will follow. Photo Credit: ATA

Where should you sit all day? Bucks are out searching for does, so focus your efforts on areas does frequent. Hot spots include near a doe bedding area and travel corridors, especially funnels. A funnel is anything that concentrates deer movement. A classic example is a strip of cover in the middle of an open area that joins two pieces of cover. Deer generally will walk in the area with cover instead of the open field when traveling between the two wood lots. Another funnel example is a terrain feature that provides deer with a preferred path. Deer like to take paths of least resistance when traveling to food, water and shelter. Hunters can use that trait to their advantage by selecting fence crossings or pinch points created by terrain.

Stay low and use cover. Photo Credit: ATA

For example, check out every dip or “saddle” in a ridgeline. These low points create easier travel routes to the ridge’s higher portions. These terrain features often create ambush opportunities because they force deer to walk through a small area that gets you close enough for a shot. Likewise, three- or four-strand barbwire fences with a missing strand or collapsed section create funnels deer can’t resist.

With these tips and a good measure of patience, you’re ready to hunt the rut.


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