The rut is a time of ensured success, right? Bucks are running wild, does are scared out of their wits after being chased night and day for weeks, and all a deer hunter has to do is get comfortable in a good funnel and nock an arrow or fill their rifle’s chamber with a quality cartridge. Right?
As all experienced deer hunters know, it ain’t that simple. While the rut can be magic, it can also be the most frustrating time of the year. Here are Whitetail Journal’s suggestions to curing 10 of the most perplexing problems a rut hunter can experience.
1) The Bucks Are Nowhere To Be Found: If you are seeing a ton of does but no bucks trailing them, the trouble is usually that those does are not yet ready. You can either hang with them until one or more come into estrus, or go find another group of girls.
2) The Scrape Looks Hot, But Isn’t: Why are you hunting scrapes during the rut? These things generally fizzle out two to three weeks before the rut’s peak. Time to find some girls with their tails straight out or to the side that are pacing as nervously as a cat on a hot tin roof.
3) I Can’t Figure Out The Pattern: Bucks run willy-nilly now, and patterning them between bedding thickets and food sources is a fool’s game. Better to set up in a funnel with the wind right located between two known doe groups and put in your time.
4) Rub Lines Lead Nowhere: During the rut’s peak period, rub lines that denote traditional travel corridors are always a good choice. Better still is the junction of two traditional rub lines marked with at least one signpost rub. Bucks always travel through this place.
5) Global Warming Has Kicked In: In unseasonably hot weather, daytime deer movement shrinks, even though rut activity continues. Hunt areas near water, ridges that get a cool afternoon breeze, and shaded thickets.
6) The Wind Won’t Quit: In extremely windy weather, does prefer sheltered areas like hollows, the lee sides of hills, and tree lines designed to break the wind. This is where you need to be, too.
7) Early And Late In The Day Are Dead: It is not unusual for buck movement during the rut to occur more heavily during midday hours. Whitetail Journal staffers have had a lot of success between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Now is when you need to be on stand all day long.
8) My Favorite Stand Is Dead: Research shows that the more you hunt a stand, the more mature bucks avoid it — even during the rut. Also, conditions change, meaning a stand that was hot for many seasons can now be as cold as ice. It’s time to assess the conditions and react accordingly, even if it means moving your stand.
9) They Keep Seeing Me: Maybe you are fidgeting on stand, or maybe your stand isn’t hidden worth beans. Or just maybe it’s your clothing. Research conducted at the University of Georgia shows that deer vision is 20 times more sensitive to blue wavelengths of light than the human eye. Try using laundry detergent with no UV brighteners.
10) The Cruisers Keep Cruising Out Of Range: Research shows that during the rut, mature bucks you’ve never seen before leave their core area to cruise through your hunting area looking for does. If you are afraid you might spook them by using deer calls, don’t be. This is the time when you must go for broke, knowing if they get past you they might never come back. Bang some horns to get their attention, then hit them with the snort-wheeze. You just might be surprised at what happens.