For many hunters across the country, the time has finally arrived. The whitetail rut is an exciting time to be in the woods. From the dead-calm fall lull to a full out jailbreak; it’s pretty incredible.
Ask any serious whitetail hunter to describe the rut and you will get varying stories. Some experience a buck or two chasing a doe. Others may report deer running through the woods in all directions, all day long.
In all my years of hunting, I have only witnessed a few rut-crazed days. Sure I have had plenty of super hunts during the rut, but until I experienced one of the true buck-wild days, I had no idea what I was missing.
There is definitely a degree of luck getting in the right place, at the right time to catch one of these epic days. But if you don’t do your homework on your hunting areas, you’re not helping your odds. There are some key hunting spots during the whitetail rut, which will not only increase your chances at seeing a buck, but also tagging one.
Two of the most overhunted areas during the rut are food plots and crop fields. Sure you have a good chance at seeing some deer, but maybe not the right deer. During this time, bucks are cruising for does, and if does are feeding then you will be in good shape. However, far too often a doe in estrous will avoid other deer, so hunting large feeding areas may not be the best strategy.
Bedding areas can be good all day during the rut. Often a buck can keep a hot doe segregated during this tending period and avoid harassment from other bucks. But as with hunting bedding areas at any time, getting in and out – undetected – is extremely critical. If you put too much pressure on these areas, it’s possible to ruin the location for the rest of the season.
My personal preference is to get in the high traffic lanes between bedding and feeding locations. These areas can be good all day, and they are easier to get into and out of without spooking deer. Look for old logging roads or ridge saddles buried in the timber.
During the rut, be prepared to sit all day in transition areas. These travel routes may not have the most sign, but they could be the key to dropping the hammer on a great buck during the rut.
Looking for more buck hunting tips for the rut? Check out this article – 8 Most Trusted Spots to Kill a Buck During the Rut – from “North American Whitetail.”