Hunting The Rut
So picture it this way...remember when you were 16 and you were a walking ball of hormones, a glimpse of skin on an attractive girl suddenly made you loose your mind to the point where you couldn't depict if your heart was racing from that girl or the giant bag of sour patch kids you smashed after study hall. Regardless we have all had it at some point...and this is what late-October brings us in the whitetail woods...bucks lose their minds over doe and this is what we call the rut!
The days are getting cooler and the bucks are moving more and more making scrapes and rubs to mark their territory. By early November the bucks testosterone levels as well as does estrogen levels are at their peak and thats when the woods comes alive. When researching the word "rut" it typically means the actual breeding period. But to us hunters we usually link it to the time in the woods when bucks spend their time fighting, scraping, rubbing and slowly losing their minds in testosterone looking for does to mate with! So a tactic we like to use here at Boondock Boyz is get our tree stands or ground blinds set up outside of the bedding areas and feeding areas. Yes this is a simple tactic and yes everyone knows you should set up where the deer are...but here is the real reason why. The does! The does are your best chance at catching up with one of those big bucks during the rut. White-tailed deer are creatures of habit...they feed when they need to, drink when they need to, and sleep when they need to. Most deer have a home domain that they are comfortable with and seem to stay within the same general area providing they feel safe and have the essentials they need. There is a nice mature buck that I personally have been hunting that over the span of 4 weeks has been seen 6 times now within the same bedding area from different stands. I know that the bedding thicket holds lots of does so I'm going to camp out right there and eventually I'm going to get an opportunity. Now this isn't a rule of thumb because during the rut...the woods are chaos. New bucks show up and invade each others turf in pursuit of the ladies. But again...stay with the ladies and the bucks will come! Seems to be the same for us humans, every man just wants to chill with the ladies.
Post rut: Now im not too worried that if I don't get him during rut I still won't have a chance post rut. Most breeder bucks can lose up to 25 percent of their body weight during the rut seeking, chasing and breeding phases. So being close to the food source will help because the bucks testosterone levels will dissipate and they will resort back to survival mode for winter to restore fat and energy levels - so they seek food.
In conclusion...the beautiful creatures go through a rigorous breeding period that we as hunters dream about each year...and its coming in full bore! So get in your stand, don't forget your grunt call of course, and when the time comes may your arrows fly true and your harvest be clean! Good luck hunting the rut!
- Cody Van Drunen