Whitetail Rut Hunting Strategies

Section #8: Strategies For Hunting The Whitetail Rut


When it comes to whitetail hunting, there is nothing better than hunting the rut. During this time, big bucks only have one thing on their mind and break away from their usual habits and precautions in order to find and chase does. It is this timeframe that gives hunters one of the best chances at catching a mature buck making a mistake. Those questions and more will be answered in this article. Here are a few different whitetail rut hunting strategies including the best time to hunt deer during the rut.

Grunt, Snort-Wheeze, and Rattle this to your buddies!

Find The Rutting Areas

WHITETAIL RUT HUNTING STRATEGIES, best time to hunt deer

If you do a little bit of scouting or have some experience in a certain area, you will find that the deer prefer to rut in certain areas more than others. These rutting areas can be somewhat predictable, and usually occur next to or near bedding areas, often in open timber or on field edges. Big bucks will often be found cruising downwind of different bedding areas to look for does that are in heat. If they get the scent of a hot doe, they will then move into that bedding area in order to find the doe. Any doe that is close to breeding is then going to be chased relentlessly until then until the actual breeding takes place. 

When bucks are chasing these does, they tend to push them towards open areas where they can better see them and keep an eye out for other bucks that could be competition. It is at this point during the rut that most hunters dream of, as these chasing bucks are very vulnerable and will follow a doe anywhere she might go, including under your tree stand!

It is a good idea to become familiar with any bedding areas well before the rut begins to start. Keep track of the different areas and look for areas that you can keep an eye on them from a distance. You can also utilize tools such as Google Earth in order to find good potential bedding areas. Make note of all the bedding areas you find and be sure to check in on them as the rut draws near.  For more information on scouting read Section #4 – Trail Camera Strategies or Section #4 – Boots On The Ground Scouting.

Strategies For Hunting The Whitetail Rut – Be Patient

Midwestern hunters can relate to this and probably have heard the same thing time and time again, but my dad always said ” You can’t kill them on the couch”. If you have scouted the area, and know the transition, staging and other travel corridors get setup downwind in a good location and wait it out. Be prepared to sit for day hunts. During the rut more than any other time, it is a time game, if you spend the time in your stand during the rut it only increases your odds of harvesting your target deer.

Strategies For Hunting The Whitetail Rut – Get Aggressive

One of the best strategies that you can use in order to avoid spooking deer is to observe from a safe distance. When the conditions are right, move in aggressively. When you do move, you need to do it quickly. Bringing a light treestand that you can quickly get in and out of a tree with is critical for this particular strategy. You must move as fast as possible, as you do not know when the deer will return. But be warned, they will return. It may be an hour, or it may be in five minutes. 

Strategies For Hunting The Whitetail Rut, best time to hunt deer

The faster that you can move and get set up, the better. Try not to worry too much about the noise that you are making, other than avoiding clanking any metal together or other similar sounds that are unnatural. It may go against your better judgment to go running through the woods making a lot of sounds, but the deer will assume it is just another deer and may even come to investigate. Get aggressive, and get ready!

If you know that you are in a prime rutting area, and have seen deer activity, the best thing that you can do is be patient. If you were aggressive and set up but the deer never returned that day, go back again the next. Be patient, as they will eventually come back around if it is a good area. Whitetail hunting is nothing more than being in the right place at the right time. By being patient, you can capitalize on a big mature buck!

Best Time To Hunt Deer During Rut

The whitetail rut throws a bit of a wrench into the age old morning versus evening debate. During the whitetail rut, deer can and do move at any time during the day. It has been eye experience that during the rut, the best time to hunt deer is during any legal hunting hour. I prefer to plan my all day sits for the rut. If you have scouted an area and know that deer are there, it is a time game. If you spend the time in the stand during the rut the deer will find you.

The whitetail rut throws a bit of a wrench into the age old morning versus evening debate. During the whitetail rut, deer can and do move at any time during the day. It has been eye experience that during the rut, the best time to hunt deer is during any legal hunting hour. I prefer to plan my all day sits for the rut. If you have scouted an area and know that deer are there, it is a time game. If you spend the time in the stand during the rut the deer will find you.

Wrap Up

The rut is a magical time of year for whitetail hunters, and there is no better place to be than out in the woods, high up in a tree. With a little bit of work and a whole lot of patience, you can not only find the best rutting areas but find plenty of mature bucks chasing does right under your tree stand. Try implementing a few of these strategies during the next rut. Stick to the process and keep grinding. If you are in a good spot sit it out as this is the best time to hunt deer.


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