Best Times to Hunt During the Rut

Hunt the Rut, Right?

When it comes to hunting white-tailed deer, every hunter knows that hunting during the rut is basically hunting during “prime time.” The rut or breeding season is when bucks will at least lower their guard. Sometimes those purely nocturnal giants will start moving during the day, making them much more vulnerable to harvest. It’s all in the timing, but figuring out the best time to hunt is not always straight forward.

First, let me say that there is no bad time to go deer hunting. Even the best morning, evening, day spent chasing whitetail is going to be a good one. There is much more to take in than just deer when you’re in the woods. But hunting and ultimately harvesting deer is what we as hunters dream about all year long, so what are some things you can do to up your chances of tagging out on a monster buck? And what if the deer you are hunting have already been pressured, like many areas?

Hunting the Rut for Big Bucks

Best Times For Hunting the Rut

Source: “All of that being said, my favorite time to hunt the rut in extreme pressured areas is without a doubt in the middle of the day from 11:00 to 3:00 PM. I personally have taken several of my biggest bucks in this time frame and will not miss it if I am able. In fact, between 2006 and 2014, I’ve taken seven bucks between 3-5 years of age, all in the middle of the day and all between November 5-7. Let’s be honest here, very few guys sit all day, or even through the midday hours.

So not only does hunting the midday time frame offer you a period of “less” pressure, but big mature deer often instinctively utilize this time frame to check doe bedding areas for estrous within their fall home range as well. If you’re serious about taking big bucks you simply must not forgo this time frame during the rut.”

There are some things that you need to know about whitetail bucks before you head into the woods. First, bucks do not throw all caution to the wind during the rut. Even when they lower their guard they do pay some attention to what’s going on, so you still can’t afford to be sloppy when it comes to scent control. Sometimes during the peak of the rut, things actually slow down. The pre-rut is when most hunters see younger bucks chasing does. These guys are just wishing something would happen. It’s kind of like a bar; the young dudes are trying to entertain the girls, buying them drinks and giving chase. The experienced guys move in a little later in the night to close the deal.

Whitetail Hunting Tip: Know Your Bucks

Another helpful tip for hunting the rut is to be patient. Although you’re hoping that deer are running around whilly-nilly, you’re required to hold your ground. Research has found that areas with good habitat, which should be areas that provide good hunting, a buck’s home range typically decreases during the rut. That’s right, bucks will often move less during the breeding season. Why would this be? Because bucks are actively searching doe-holding hot spots. They don’t look everywhere; they hit the “bars,” such as spin-feeders, cool season crops and winter food plots. They refine their searches.

If you plan on hunting an area with a lot of pressure during the rut, get out there when other hunters are not. Also, make sure to hold steady for at least a few days if you expect to wait out a breeding buck. Research suggests that a buck will visit a doe hot spot about once every 3-4 days. Best of luck and I hope you get to use your buck tag!

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