Real World Rut Tacticson Nov 11, 2012
Some of my most exciting rut hunts have happened in the first 30 minutes of the morning. I’ve typically had my greatest success in rattling in bucks in the first 30 minutes to an hour of the day. I think much of this is that bucks have been cruising or hounding does all night and seem to have their guard down the most at first light. But few of my hunts have been as rewarding as the ones where I’ve killed a big buck at mid-day. There’s something about sticking it out on stand long after other hunters have left the woods and being blessed with a buck cruising within bow-range in the mid-day hours.
Jimmy Primos, of Primos Hunting, has hunted rutting whitetail bucks all across the country. And, while Mr. Jimmy is known as a game-calling guru, he’ll admit that things change drastically when the rut is in swing. “My main rut tactic is to stay in the woods as much as possible during the rut,” says Primos. “During the rut you can throw tactics out the window…bucks are too unpredictable. The rut often occurs during a full moon. If that is the case, one of the best times to hunt is 10am to 2pm. I think bucks lay up in the early morning after chasing does all night but often get up from their beds around noon as their rut instincts start to kick in. I have killed a lot of big bucks during the rut around 12 noon.”
My buddy, Dave Oligee, agrees that many hunters miss out on the mid-day opportunities during the rut. He admits that one of the greatest “tactics” for the rut is to develop a tough butt and stay in your stand for the long hours. “You gotta be in the stand to reap the benefits. So many people get in their stands before daylight and are out before 11:00am. I've killed a lot of bucks between 10am-2am tucked in nice and tight to bedding areas.”
Stay Mobile for Your Buck
It was a few days before Thanksgiving several years ago when I found myself impatiently awaiting the end of my daughter’s Thanksgiving play at school. I loved the play, and my daughter did an amazing job…but I was a bit distracted by a treestand along a creek bottom that was calling my name. Earlier that day I had encountered bucks chasing does in the timber strip across the field from me. Not being one that likes to just watch the show, I quickly got down, moved my stand into the midst of where all the action seemed to be happening and made plans to come back after my daughter’s play for an evening hunt.
By staying mobile, Brodie was able to shoot this Montana buck five minutes after he climbed into the stand.
As I made the mad scramble back to my stand on that afternoon, I encountered 2 bucks with a doe…standing right under my treestand! I moved in slowly hoping to “gently push” them away so I could climb in to my stand. It was that crazy time of the rut when bucks pay little attention to anything other than a doe standing still. I was nearly in bow range before the deer finally scooted away from my stand. I quickly climbed in, buckled down in my safety harness, and was attempting to put the tree arm on the tree for my video camera when the larger buck chased the doe right back up to my stand. I had been in my stand less than five minutes! When I saw the buck was oblivious to my presence, I took the time to pull the rangefinder from my pocket and confirm the distance. I shot him at 35-yards. He was standing in nearly the exact same place that the trio was when I first arrived that afternoon. For whatever reason, that doe wanted to be in that spot.
By observing deer frequenting this particular chunk of ground, on that particular day, and being mobile to move in where the party was at, I was able to punch my tag on a great Montana buck.
Most often, hunters get bogged down by sitting the same stand over and over again, expecting different results, but continuing to come up empty. And that’s a classic example of insanity. Don’t just watch the show. Go “mobile” as you move to where the action is taking place.