During the Rut Lockdown Phase, Patience Pays Big

During the lockdown phrase of the rut, bucks and does will pair up, often for several days before bucks will split off to search for another doe. (Terry Owens photo)

As deer activity begins to slow with the lockdown phase of the rut approaching, now is the time to lockdown yourself on some key areas and prepare to the play the waiting game

As fast as the rut action ramps up, it can cool down just as fast. Almost like a switch, the chasing and cruising can shut down. Not only that, but it can almost seem like ALL the deer on the property disappear.


If this happens to you, do not panic; you have entered the lockdown phase of the rut. A time when bucks are paired up with does and peak breeding is occurring. This can be a great time to hunt, if you have the patience.

Often people associate the peak of rut with peak breeding, which is incorrect. When we talk about the rut, we think about cruising giants that have been nocturnal all year long, and crash-chasing through the woods.

Peak breeding is the complete opposite, locking deer down for 48-96 hours. However, that’s the good news. At some point the bonds will break and the bucks will be back on their feet. This is where patience comes into play.


Though you may not see the fast-paced, consistent action you would during the seeking or chasing phases of the rut, you can see a mature buck on his feet at any point during the day. The moment a buck is done tending a doe, he will be on to search for another.

This could be at dawn, dusk or middle of the day. Again, patience is the key. You may not see much activity during the lockdown phase, but the one deer you may see, could be the one that you are after.


Set up near bedding areas; these will be the hot places bucks will be cruising. Often times if you sit near food sources, does will avoid the area because, in estrous or not, they will be harassed by bucks. If you stick closer to bedding areas you are more likely to see bucks cruising the edges for the scent of a hot doe.

Do not rely on calls to be very effective – especially rattling and grunting. Although it could pull a great buck in close, the soft bleats of doe call or the use of doe-in-estrous lure – where legal – can be much more effective.

This season, warmerweather loomed over what should have been peak chasing, and suppressed activity during the day in many areas.

Randy Birdsong of Headhunters TV noted: “It’s one of the slowest bow seasons I have ever experienced.” This has been true for many hunters.

Over the next few weeks (Nov. 20 – Dec. 4), hang close to thick bedding areas for a better chance of encountering cruising bucks.

Recommended for You

Fishing How-To

Why You'll Lose Your Next Big Bass

Larry Larsen

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it.

Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

Guns

MidwayUSA Pro Series Shooting Mat

G&F Staff

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat.

See More Recommendations

Trending Stories

Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

Catfish

Catfish Night & Day: How to Catch 'Em Both Ways

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the...

Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these five great...

See More Stories

More Whitetail

Whitetail

Ground Zero: West Virginia's Record Bucks

Larry Case - February 16, 2019

Fayette and Kanawha counties are the place in West Virginia for big bucks if you are up to the...

Hunting

Ground Zero: Hottest Spots for Trophy Bucks in Your State

G&F Online Staff - February 19, 2019

Here's a state-by-state look at where the best hunting grounds are located across the country.

Crossbows

Crossbows: The Lane Bailey Buck

Tracy Breen

If you think you may have only one shot, pick up a crossbow like this hunter did.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×