How to Hunt Deer in the Rut

David Bolden October 28, 2020 0
How to Hunt Deer in the Rut

This is it – the time of year deer hunters wait for. Vacation time is used up and every possible second is spent in the woods. The rut is on, baby! Let’s go hunting! Hunting whitetails in the rut is fun and very rewarding, but what is the best way to hunt them? A lot of advice is dolled out and some of it is good, and some, well, not so much. Here are five tips on how to hunt deer in the rut that have worked for us.

Switch to video

Switch those cameras to video mode.

If you’re like us, you run multiple trail cameras for every area you hunt. Sorting trail camera pictures is a ton of fun. As the rut kicks in, I like to switch my cameras into video mode. SOmeone told me to try it years ago and I’m hooked. Video gives you insights into behavior patterns that you can’t get from photos alone. Cellular cameras are the best because you can get it in realtime. We don’t, however, recommend using these types of cameras in the field as a way to stalk deer. Learn more about cellular cameras here.

Sit all day

Buck in rut
Bucks move all day long in the rut, so sit them out.                                    Photo: Shutterstock/Critterbiz

One thing we have learned is that during the rut, deer behavior patterns go out the window. They move more during the day and let’s face it, bucks get stupid. Can’t blame them, though. What guy hasn’t gotten stupid for a girl? My wife is over on the couch nodding her head. During pre- or post-rut, you may sit for a few hours in the morning, or evening, but during peak rut, sit as long as you possibly can. Comfort is a big factor here, at least for me, so I like to use a 2-man ladder stand for long sits. It gives me more room to stretch out and options to move some if I need to. Not to mention, it gives you a little extra room to reposition for a shot. Remember, bucks are stupid and if there’s one coming in on a scent trail, it may not be in the position you planned for. The other bonus to a 2-man is, you can bring along someone. My son is my favorite hunting buddy by far. Check out a deal on a Big Dog 2-man ladder stand here.

Hunt the does

A doe decoy can draw in both bucks and does… which draws in more bucks. It also takes attention away from you.

While bucks get stupid, does get smarter during the rut. While you can almost count on a buck to be single-minded this time of year, a mature doe will be on its A-game. You need to be on your game, too, by learning the behavior and hunting the does, waiting for the bucks to come after them. A tactic that has worked great for us is to use a deer decoy. Now, a buck will come in and challenge another buck, but a doe decoy will draw in another doe as a confidence decoy, and that has worked better for us. Two years ago, I had a doe decoy out, covered with estrous scent. A big doe walking along a ridge well out of range saw the decoy and came right in. The 8-point following the doe did as well and things went according to my plan. Don’t be afraid to try the decoy for the does as well as the bucks.  place your decoy just off the path you expect deer to follow and make it so you can see it from your stand. It’ll make a great  ranging tool, too.  Learn more about Doe Decoys here.

Know the nose

Bucks have a one-track mind in the rut and they follow their nose. Photo: Shutterstock/Shelton

This one is a two parter, but we’ll start with targeting the buck’s desire for a lady friend. Doe estrous scents are a good way to help draw in a buck. There are several types of estrous scents available, too. Generally speaking, most “cheaper” scents are based on urine collected from multiple does and mixed into one scent. This can be confusing for the buck, but at the same time, it does give off the notion that there are multiple does for the buck to breed. Single doe scent options tend to cost more but contain the estrous urine from a single doe, which is more natural. Synthetic scents are gaining in popularity because they can replicate the pheromones and increase the potency. Plus synthetic scents tend to withstand the elements and last longer in the field. We’ve tested several synthetic scents and they work pretty dang well. The most important thing with an estrous scent is, it gives the buck something to focus on as he looks for love. Check out Code Blue Screaming Heat Scent here.

Scent part two – you

Calming scent seems to have that effect on deer, making them relax.

You also need to cover your own scent as much as possible. There are multiple ways to help do this, and every year something new comes along that changes how we view scent control. If you want a complete plan, you need to consider how you wash your hunting clothing, how you cover your scent in the field, how you handle the air around you, and don’t overlook the notion of a cover scent. Here’s what we do:

  • Wash your body and clothing with scent-free soaps. Learn more about these types of soaps here.
  • Use an ozone-type generator to help “wash” out any scent left in the clothing. They have multiple types of these units available, including ones for your truck and your stand. Learn more about them here.
  • Spray everything you come in contact with using a scent-killing spray. This includes your stand, you bow, etc. I like to use the same brand as I wash with, so there is no chance of any weird reactions. Learn more about Dead Down Wind cover scent deals here.
  • Use a cover scent, mostly to cover up the smells you can’t control. You have to breathe, so you will give off odor. There is no fixing that. I have found that calming scents beat out any other type of cover scent. These types of scent have been catching on and I can say that they work.

5 Tasks for Fall Deer Camp for Another Successful Hunt


5 Tasks for Fall Deer Camp for Another Successful Hunt

It’s October already and it could be archery season for deer where you live with firearm and muzzleloader season quickly approaching. The clock is spinning fast and it’s time to start getting your hunting property and deer camp ready for hunting. Here are some critical job tasks that must be accomplished before you can start getting into a stand for hunting. Get busy with these ideas to ensure a smoother, more successful, and relaxing hunt this fall.

Deer Camp – Task #1

Before you know what deer hunting harvest goals to set for this year, start by going over what happened last season. Assuming you keep some kind of harvest log (shame on you if you don’t) review it now. How many bucks and does were taken? What should be taken this year? If you have doubts, have a state deer biologist visit the numbers and help you decide what should be harvested this season to help balance your herd.

Deer Camp – Task #2

Decide which food plots to plant this year if not already done. You may want to consider rotating some of them to avoid deer patterning the hunters. Do soil tests. Get those plots mowed to sit for a couple weeks, then plow or disk thoroughly to turn under the dead grass and weeds. Buy your selected seed and fertilizer now to avoid rushes. Plant at the optimal time watching for ideal temperatures and rain forecasts.

Deer Camp – Task #3

Get back on the tractor and brush hog to trim up all the land access trails, back trails, and hunting area access points. Shape up the camp area, too. As you go, look for overhanging limbs, sticker bushes and vines that need to be removed along the way. A swat in the face by a thorn bush while riding an ATV later in the season will remind you of that task, and could be an extremely unwelcomed surprise going out to your hunting stand on opening morning in the dark.

Deer Camp – Task #4

Go to every hunting stand on the property for an eyeball inspection. Get all the vines off the stands and clean up around the bottoms. Check out each stand for stability, correct installation, especially new stands, and replace old ratchet straps that secure stands to the tree. Tighten bolts, lubricate squeaky noises where parts rub together and paint as needed after removing any rust. Check shooting lanes and trim out branches that block vital views from tree stand seats.

Deer Camp – Task #5

Get the hunting camp ready for occupation. Perform repairs and inspections whether you use tents, campers, or have a cabin. Test electricity and plumbing to be in working order. Cut firewood or order some in. Bring in clean sheets, towels, and kitchen linen. Resupply with paper products, trash can liners, dish soap, and other supplies. Oh, while you’re at it, be sure to ready all hunting gear, guns, bows, arrows, and other tools used for hunting. Get the ATV/UTVs and hunting vehicles serviced, especially tires. Doing these jobs now will set you up for a great hunting season.

Remember, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of prevention. The more you do ahead of time the less stressed you will be when it comes to arriving at deer camp the week of. Then, you can simple enjoy the past-time of hunting with friends and family, creating memories, and hopefully filling tags for venison in the freezer and potentially a wall hanger. As always, let us know any tips, tricks, ideas, or thoughts you might have in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.

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