The Five Stages of the Rut: How and When to Hunt

Posted: 10/30/2012 in Gable Sporting Goods, Hunting, Real Avid, Whitetail Deer
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10/29/2012  From BMG Outdoors

The leaves are just about off; the nights are getting cooler and the days shorter. The time of year whitetail hunters dream about all year is just about here. Many hunters don’t fully understand the different phases of the rut and how to go about hunting them. We’re going to try and iron out the different stages, attempt to attach some approximate dates to them (obviously it can vary substantially given your location) and lastly give you some tips on where you should be.

Stage One: The Prelude October 15th-October 25th 
This stage is usually one that gets many hunters prematurely excited. Scrapes and rubs are starting to show up all throughout the woods and you may see bucks sparring to strengthen their muscles and align the pecking order. Most of these sparring battles take place at dusk or dawn and if mature bucks are involved it’s in the overnight hours. If you spend a lot of time in the woods you may even see some rut like activity from the smaller bucks chasing does around. I recommend staying out of the woods in this time frame unless you have evidence that your target buck is moving in daylight hours.

Stage Two: Seeking (October 25th-November 7th) 
This is our favorite time to be in the woods; the time of year whitetail hunters dream of all year. Anticipation runs high and the woods can break loose at anytime of the day. We hunt whenever we can; even if it means we can only get out for 3 hours in the middle of the day, it could spell success. We sit patiently awaiting the highly anticipated crashing of limbs followed by deep grunts and that big rack running toward the set. Something like 70% of pope and young bucks are shot in this time period. Mature bucks act like teenage boys chasing does around often temporarily letting down their senses. Remember just because bucks let their senses down it doesn’t mean the doe’s do; you still have to watch the wind and remain stealthy to avoid ruining your hunt. During this small window of opportunity it pays to be in areas with does around.

During the seeking stage we generally sit the downwind side of known doe bedding areas or funnels that act as travel corridors for bucks to stay hidden throughout their high speed pursuits. It pays to be where the doe’s are so if you know a certain area where doe’s like to hang out, set up shop somewhere close and your chances of seeing bucks will increase dramatically. Mornings and mid afternoon generally tend to produce more sightings versus evening hunts but again anytime you can be in a tree increases your odds!

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