Bowhunting For Rutting Bucks

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rutting bucks
During the peak of the rut, bucks are on their feet all day.

Some deer hunters like to key in on bedding areas and travel routes during the rut. You can rest assured that every buck in the territory knows where the preferred bedding areas are for the local does. If you can get in and set up near one of these bedding areas early in the morning before the does show up, you should be in business.

Hunting the travel routes is always productive because bucks will get on them to see if they can pick up the scent of any hot does. Also, if the does are walking up and down these trails as they move to and from bedding and feeding areas, a few bucks are sure to be lurking behind them.

Some deer hunters really don’t spend much time hunting over feeding areas during the peak of the rut. Deer typically only visit these places early in the morning and late in the afternoon. You’re not likely to find many deer feeding during the middle of the day, and since you want to maximize my hunting productivity during daylight hours when the rut is on, you want to find those places where deer are most likely to hang out during that time.

Besides the obvious benefits of deer hunting near places where does hang out during the rut, these areas also are the most productive places to use deer scents and deer calls. If you’re going to make deer noises in the woods and put down deer scents to try to lure in bucks, it only makes sense to employ them in those areas where deer are commonly found. We’ll talk about using those scents and calls in just a bit.

Peak rut is a great time to hunt over a fresh deer scrape. The buck that initially made that deer scrape is likely to visit it time and again to freshen it up with some urine sprayed over his tarsal glands. Likewise, the musty odor will attract other bucks looking to establish their dominance in the woods.

Deer Calling and Using Deer Scents

If you don’t employ them in any other part of the season, the peak rut is the time to use deer scents and deer calls. Bucks are extremely responsive to both during the peak rut. And that’s to be expected, since this is the time of the season when most of the deer calls you’ll make and the deer scents you’ll put down occur naturally in the wild.

On a day when you plan to deer hunt from a fixed position, such as a tree stand or a ground blind, lay down a scent trail as you approach your spot. You can soak a rag in doe-in-heat scent, tie it to your boot and simply drag it as you walk, or you can put cotton pads loaded with scent on the bottom of your boots or you can simply squirt scent out of a bottle as you move toward your hunting spot. The idea is to create a line of scent that a buck can follow with his nose right to your setup.

peak of deer rut
A buck responds to a hunter’s grunt calling.

Once you reach your hunting spot, hang a few scent-laden wicks or strips of rags in tree branches all around your tree stand. You want the prevailing winds to blow across these items and carry the alluring doe scent through the woods in hopes of drawing in a buck that might pass downwind from your position.

Be sure to place these hanging deer scent dispensers in places that you can shoot to from your position. An approaching buck is likely to move right up to them to get a good whiff. The lures do you no good if they’re tucked in thick brush or behind tree limbs that could block your shot at a curious buck.

Calling during the peak rut consists of reproducing buck and doe vocalizations and rattling antlers. Some deer hunters favorite tactics to employ when on stand and can’t see any deer is to use a can-style, doe-in-estrus call to give out two bleats, and then follow that up with a series of seven or eight fast buck grunts from my grunt tube. You can repeat this sequence two or three times in a row and then sit quietly for 20 minutes. If no deer show up, do it again.

If you’re deer hunting an area where you feel pretty confident there are some big, mature bucks, you might even want to throw in a snort wheeze, which sounds just like its name implies. This tends to be a dominant buck vocalization, so if your area is primarily inhabited by two and three-year-old bucks, you’re probably just going to run them off. But if there are some whopper, four-year-olds and up, by all means, give a snort wheeze.

Rattling with antlers or a rattle bag is very effective in areas where the buck-to-doe ratio is fairly even, because battles between bucks for the right to breed are common. Don’t be afraid to make a real racket when you’re rattling during the peak rut. Bucks are aggressive now. If you’re deer hunting a place where does far outnumber the bucks, leave the rattling antlers at home. Bucks don’t fight over does too much in these areas and the tactic is not too productive.


Sitting Pretty

As was stated in the beginning of this article, when the rut’s on, bucks are on their feet all day trolling for does or chasing them. This is the most productive time to sit from sunrise to sunset. And if you’ve never done that, personal comfort is the key to sticking it out.

Tree stand hunters would do well to hunt from the biggest tree stand they can get their hands on. The bigger the better. When you sit on stand all day, hunt from stands with platforms that measure 24 inches wide by 30 inches long. And they have thick cushions on the seats.

Deer Hunters who choose to sit in ground blinds, should be sure to have comfortable chairs. A simple stool won’t cut it. Bring along a folding chair that has arm rests and a back.

Pack lots of food and water. Nothing will encourage you to leave the woods faster than a growling stomach or parched throat. And since you’ll be eating and drinking while you’re on stand or in your ground blind, you should carry along a bottle to urinate in.

If you’re expecting the temperature to range up and down during the course of the day, be sure you have enough clothes for the coldest times. As the air warms, you can always remove layers to keep from overheating.

Count on enduring some slow periods when you sit all day. Some deer hunters like to take along some reading materials or pocket electronic games to pass the time. Some deer hunters like to just sit and think. This is a time of relaxation for some. There are no computers, no phones, no bosses nagging me. It’s just you and nature.

The rut can be described as “the time when whitetailed deer, especially bucks, are more active and less cautious than usual. This makes them easier to hunt…” With that kind of billing, doesn’t it seem only natural to maximize your deer hunting efforts during this period? Don’t let the rut pass you by this year. Deer hunt often and hunt smart. And don’t forget your field-dressing gear.



Russell, MB
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