The rut is here! Across most of the whitetail’s range, the rut is heating up and bucks are on their feet looking for receptive does. The rut is a great time to punch a buck tag, especially if you know where to hunt.
During the rut, patterning deer can be difficult or next to impossible. Bucks are primarily looking for receptive does, and does are seeking cover from dogging bucks. Experience has taught me that the most successful hunting locations are near or overlooking cover/bedding areas.
When hunting cover, I try to do one of two things:
- Hunt the downwind side of a bedding area to catch bucks cruising along the edge scent-checking for a hot doe. If there is a bottleneck present, all the better.
- Set up a treestand or elevated blind overlooking a bedding area with the maximum view. Throughout the rut, a doe will find thick cover and hide from bucks for relief. If I’m able to watch a large area where does are hiding, sooner or later, a buck will move through in search of a hot doe. Click here to see this tactic in action.
This was a very exciting hunt where I tagged a 17-point Ozark Mountain bruiser. I was using the tactic of watching over a large bedding area, and this buck came through following some does.
The key to finding and tagging a buck during the rut is locating receptive does. I’ve used these methods time and time again during the rut, and I’ve enjoyed many successful hunts. The rut can be an exciting time to be in the woods, especially if you can locate receptive does.
Editor’s note: Be sure to check out Dr. Grant Woods and his popular on-demand web series that shares current information about deer hunting and deer management. The free videos focus on what the GrowingDeer team of experienced hunters and deer managers are doing in the field week to week, including action-packed hunts, proven hunting strategies, habitat management, food plots, trail camera techniques and the gear it takes to get it all done.
Images and videos by Dr. Grant Woods