By Will Allen
Mention the words “the rut” to any deer hunter and visions of big antlers dance through their heads. While it is true that testosterone fueled decisions do account for a greater amount of bucks hitting the ground than normal, we’re still talking about deer. They spend their entire lives eluding danger and they are very good at it, especially deer that have had some practice. Here are a few proven strategies for rut hunting success.
Get In The Stand
When it comes to sitting in a stand there are two rules you hear all the time, sit all day and never hunt the same stand two consecutive days. One of those pieces of advice is perfect for the rut. The other isn’t really a hard and fast rule for the rut. Hunting all day is a must. In fact, I’ve had several days of hunting during the rut in which my sightings were more numerous in the midday, especially for mature bucks. Save up your vacation days at work and brownie points at home. This is the best hunting you will see all season. As far as stand selection is concerned, if you have a really good stand sites there is nothing wrong with hunting it for a few days straight. This is especially true if it is much better than your other sites. If you can let a stand cool off, great. But don’t stay off a hot stand because you hunted it the day before.
Funnel Them In
If you have some natural funnels on your property, the rut is the time to use them. Food sources are great but if you’re after a bruiser buck, go where he will be. I like inside corners of fields, creek bends, and steep rock ledges. If there is a terrain feature on your property that is hard to get around, figure out how deer are avoiding it and go there. When bucks are on the move during the rut you want to be near the highway, not the restaurant.
Take A Drink
I killed a nice buck a few years ago along a field edge. I was hunting the tip of a wooded finger while waiting for my neighbors to chase a buck off their property. This spot was the fastest way for neighboring bucks to get from a wide open field into the cover of the woods behind me. Sure enough around eleven in the morning I spotted a deer running my way from 400 yards away. I glassed him with my binoculars and picked up my bow after seeing his antlers. This buck was trucking. However, he made one stop between my neighbor’s property and my stand site, a creek. Typical of cow country, this creek was right out in the open. But he stopped there to take what would be his last drink of water before sprinting to my location. Bucks don’t completely stop eating but it is certainly not their focus during the rut. Because they’re not getting moisture from food and they’re constantly on the move, bucks crave water during the rut. Find a good watering hole and it won’t be long before a rutting buck shows up, especially in dry areas.