How to Hunt All Day During the Rut

By Paul AnnearNovember 3, 2023

For most whitetail hunters, the peak of the whitetail rut is here. It’s time for late-night strategizing with buddies and hot morning coffee to kick-start those treks to your favorite rut stand.

There are many different time-tested and proven ways to be successful while hunting from late October into November. Some hunters take long seven or ten day stretches of vacation, other hunters do multiple three or four-day weekends during the rut. No matter when you take vacation, hunting all day is one strategy many hunters use to notch their tag during that time. Buck movement can be scattered during the peak rut, and you just have to be on stand as much as possible.

Pulling an all-day sit doesn’t necessarily mean you need to confine yourself to one tree stand the whole day. In fact, that might not be your best strategy. You just need to be in the woods to stay in the game. You can’t sit all day if you aren’t prepared with the necessities, go in with a plan, have back-up items and find ways to stay sharp.

How To Hunt All Day During The Rut

Mornings vs. Evening Sits

One challenge of hunting the rut is you need to determine the evening or morning value of each stand site. A great morning stand could at times be a dud after 12pm. Walking into and hunting near food in the morning could blow deer out of the area.

If you’re in the timber or swamp for a morning sit, you might need to climb down, go for a short walk and settle into a stand better suited for evening time activity around food. During my rut hunting, I don’t miss a single morning. Find that best time to hunt on your property and don’t miss out.

Don’t sit in the same stand all day just because your friends are bragging about it to you with regular Snapchat updates. Hunt all day, but make those sits count. If you have a proven all day hunting location, by all means grind it out and give that stand its due time, but sitting tight in the same stand all day isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. You need to take historical data into account, and do what makes sense if you are seeing chasing in the area.

Why Are You Sitting There?

Are you in your stand because it’s one of those ‘where we always sit’ locations, or do you have a better reason to sit there? You had better be close to does and where they want to be, or you could miss the action. A quarter of the way or halfway down a ridge top can be a dynamite place to post up for a crisp November sit. In flatter ground, inside corners of edges or the edge of a swamp where changes in habitat meet could be money.

The challenge is finding these locations where deer want to be and then using terrain that pinches movement down for an archery shot within those spots. Rivers, pond edges, steep ridge points, and rock outcroppings are all proven rut funnels that can filter movement past your stand.

I don’t like chasing trail camera photos, but you should still pay attention to your cell cameras and find those hot locations right now. A large concentration of bucks on certain cameras can tell you there might be a hot doe in the area. Be where the does frequent, whether its bedding or food—and put in your time.

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Rut Essentials

Sitting all day is a mind game. If you are mentally ready for an all-day hunt, but forget a few of your essential items like food and water, you won’t last. Don’t worry about the scent of food and other snacks—you should be playing the wind regardless. You need to pack the food you need to stay sharp and focused. It goes without saying that water is a must, but maybe throw in a soda or other caffeinated beverage to get you past that early afternoon drag.

A few of my backup rut essentials include extra eye contacts, release, Kleenex, headlamp, and knife. What would happen if your release somehow broke as you’re tethered in a saddle or trapped in a climber 20 feet high just as the woods are coming alive? The last thing I want to do is be forced to leave for something simple. Always pack extra essentials to keep you in the hunt without making an unnecessary trip out of the woods and to the archery shop.

Hunting All Day In A Tree

Tips for Staying Sharp on Stand

Frankly, sitting all day is a feat. If the movement is slow, you could move to another stand if you have that option. Otherwise, there is no shame in climbing down and stretching your legs at the base of your tree. Sure, you risk the buck of a lifetime running by, but that’s doubtful. Climbing down and stretching your legs and moving for just a few minutes might be just what you need.

If you are like many deer hunters in this modern age of mature buck chasing, you have probably told yourself you’ll shoot more does this season. Then November 7th rolls around and you still haven’t killed a doe. Let this be the year that changes.

Shoot a doe if you want a quick confidence boost and adrenaline rush while pulling an all-day sit. It will keep you sharp. Believe me when I say shooting a lone doe or taking out a mature one in a doe family group will not screw up your quest for a buck like you think it might. There is no substitute for live deer target practice. So, fill the freezer and shoot a doe. Plus, she could be great ‘bait’ for cruising bucks. We’ve all seen footage of giant deer nudging a doe that was just shot.

In terms of what you can do physically to stay sharp, you need to drink and eat. I make the mistake of not drinking enough water about one sit per season. It’s easy to think you don’t need much water since you aren’t moving and haven’t broken a sweat since your walk in at dark. By about 1pm, a pounding headache will remind you to drink water. Drink plenty of water leading up to your hunts, and hydrate while on stand.

Limit Distractions

Most of us would agree that smartphones are a blessing and a curse. It’s no different in the whitetail woods! Texting a buddy, reading a book, playing a game, or even watching a football game can at least keep you in the tree. They can also be a major distraction because deer can sneak in fast and leave you scrambling for your bow, especially in wet conditions where you’re relying heavily on sight. Many hunters have flat-out missed their chance on bucks of a lifetime because they were texting or scrolling social media. Lay off your phone during the first and last hour of daylight.

 I like to go in cycles where I’ll respond to a few texts or read something on my phone a few times per hour, rather than pulling out my phone with each buzz of a text message. This might sound odd, but I believe talking on the phone is less of a distraction than constantly texting, this is especially true in breezy conditions.

With a phone call, you can still scan the woods rather than have your face down in your phone. On days with a steady mid-day breeze, I’d rather talk on the phone with someone for 5 minutes rather than text for 20 minutes back and forth with my head down.

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Final Thoughts

A magic formula for sitting all day doesn’t exist, but rather its multiple factors you can control that will keep you sharp and in the woods during all daylight hours. It’s a total grind that takes discipline and will power.

Paul Annear
Paul Annear is a freelance writer born and raised in the picturesque region of southwest Wisconsin's Driftless area. He currently resides in northeast Wisconsin. He is a proud father of three, willing mini-van driver, and a former 7' high jumper for the Wisconsin Badgers. 
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