With the rut beginning to heat up, be careful not to get stuck in one. There are major changes taking place in a buck’s routine this time of year. These changes offer your best chance at placing your tag on a nice buck.
Food has become secondary to mature bucks by the first of November. This causes most hunters to change their tactics while others get stuck in an early season rut. Does dictate buck movement during this phase of the rut. Although the bucks aren’t as concerned with food, the does will still continue a typical feeding routine. The pressure of human presence has pushed the deer deeper into bedding areas, which may cause a late entry into a food source, but may also cause them to arrive at the bedding area a few minutes late in the morning. I recommend getting off the food source by a few hundred yards if possible. I tend to use the same trail systems, but track them back in the direction of their beds. Remember to stay far enough away from the bedding area to prevent spooking them. The bucks tend to be a few minutes behind the does, so if you want one, I recommend letting the does pass.
From sunrise to 8 a.m. will be your best chance to catch one trailing a doe. The next two hours tend to be slow most mornings, which causes most hunters to leave the woods. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., most hunters are out of the woods and miss the magic of the rut. Bucks in our area will take a brief rest then get up and roam from one bedding area to another during these hours. I like to leave the early a. m., setup around nine to nine-thirty, and move to the downwind side of a bedding area. I do this because bucks will be on the prowl trying to scent does from their beds. They know when and where the does will be stationary, and your knowledge of this makes them vulnerable.
Scents play a major role in your midday setup. I like to mimic a doe heading to bed with a scent drag. There’s a good chance if a buck crosses the scent he will come in to investigate. Also, your use of calls will be most effective the next few weeks. Cruising bucks are out looking for gals, but are ready for a fight at the drop of a hat. Around 85 percent of the bucks that I harvest come in to a territorial grunt or a snort-wheeze. In my eyes, there is no tool in your belt more effective than a grunt call when attempting to attract a buck. Although, some deer pay little attention to calls, smaller bucks tend to approach slowly or even run away. While the bigger bucks tend to bristle up, tuck their ears back, and march straight in for a fight.
By 2 p.m. buck movement begins to slow down until the evening doe migration to their food source. Evening movement tends to be late in the evening, so the closer you are to the bedding area the better. There is no absolute time to be in place during the rut, so stay put as long as you can...