Whitetail Video: Hunting the Second Rut

The second rut is real, and in the Midwest and North, it takes place from late November through mid-December.

Whitetail Video: Hunting the Second Rut

Photo from Moultrie Products Facebook/Jamie Vee

The second rut, also called the secondary rut by some whitetail hunters, isn’t a myth. Any doe that wasn’t bred during the primary rut in early to mid-November will come into heat again about a month later, and you can be sure that a buck will take advantage of this opportunity. In addition to breeding an available doe during the second rut, bucks will pursue fawns that are now ready to be bred.

In the video below, Jeff Sturgis of Whitetail Habitat Solutions provides an outstanding summary of the second rut and how to hunt it. He explains what you can expect to see in the woods in terms of buck and doe activity. It won’t be crazy like the most intense rut days during November. As Sturgis explains, you’ll often see about 20% of the rutting action in early December as you witnessed in early November.

Jeff Sturgis with a mature whitetail buck taken during the Midwest’s second rut.
Jeff Sturgis with a mature whitetail buck taken during the Midwest’s second rut.

Even though the whitetail action isn’t as fast and furious during the second rut, one advantage is you’ll likely have the woods to yourself. Some deer hunters simply don’t believe in the second rut, and others have filled their tags or are burned out. Whatever the case, hunting pressure will be reduced, and that’s a benefit for anyone who braves the cold.

Of course, food is key to finding deer during any part of the whitetail season, and this is especially true in December because food sources are limited. A standing cornfield or picked one littered with corn kernels will draw antlerless deer, plus bucks. The same is true for brassica fields with leftover greens or bulbs. If food isn’t present in ag fields in your area, then look for leftover acorns on oak ridges, as well as twigs and other browse in recently logged forests.

Check out the video below for clear evidence that mature bucks are on the prowl for a hot doe or fawn during the second rut. Dress warm, find the food, and shoot straight!

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