In the following information I will discuss , 

The Deer Rut , what it means and the different phases of it.

This time period is one of my favorite times during the hunting season. For me the deer rut begins around the second week of November, sometimes a little sooner and sometimes a little later, It all depends on where you live.

The Pre-Rut

The pre-rut occurs when deer transition from the patterns that they followed early in the hunting season to fall activity. During this time, the bucks start to perform rutting activities,  leaving signs of their condition on the ground or tree trunks and branches. These (rut signs) includes scrapes and wallows where male deer have dug shallow pits, urinated in them and rolled around in the resulting mud to coat them selfs in it. Branches and  tree trunks might also display signs of fraying from deer rubbing their antlers om them to remove velvet.

A lot of hunters refer to this time as the lull due to deer spending a lot more time in wooded areas. However, knowing where to set up can still produce good results.

Hunting during this time requires significant knowledge about deer behavior. It is vital to know where they go for food and when they bed for the night. Deer hit mast crops during this time so look out for ares with lots of acorns. Rut signs are a good indication that a buck has settled in nearby.

Setting up between food sources and bedding areas will give the best results. During this periods, evening sets are the most productive. Morning hunts don’t typically yield good results due to the uneven patterns bucks follow as they transition to their fall ranges and behavior patterns. Using call and decoys during this phase is also a bad idea since most deer won’t respond to them just yet, and a call would most likely just scare them away.

Now The Seeking Phase

This phase is when bucks begin to act a little rutty. It generally occurs during the last seven to 10 days in October and can last into early November, depending on your location. Rut signs are really gearing up now and testosterone levels are getting deer up on their feet a little earlier in the day.Mature are now frequently seen walking in daylight. You might see some young bucks chasing, but don’t expect the big boys to. that’s still a week or more away.

Tactics

I’m still keying in on buck bedding areas during this phase. Rut signs are becoming a little more important now. The odds still aren’t good of killing a buck over a scrape, most scraping activity is done at night, but if you find several scrapes and a rub line really close to a known bedding area, get between it and the buck’s bedroom on morning hunts. Continue to focus on bed-to-feed patterns for afternoon sits.

During this phase, begin hunting mornings and evenings from now through the post rut. Calling and rattling tactics can work, but I’d hold off until the latter halp of this phase to really get loud with them.

Chasing Phase

The Chasing Phase is the period most hunters refer to as “the rut”. It is the period of the deer rutting season when these animals are most sexually assertive. Very little mating happens during this phase, but every buck out there ahould now be making a play for estrus females, With just one thing on their minds, bucks lower their guard and become easier to harvest.

To hunt this phase of the rut, set up alongside of trails that run parallel to any fields, open areas and food sources. Bucks use these trails to search for estrus does that might have traveled along them. In hill country, bucks travel along ridges, staying a little bit away from the top of the ridge line to avoid being seen, so setting up on the side of ridges work here. They might also visit doe bedding areas in search of the females that occupy them.

It is during this phase that throwing out all stops when it comes to trying to attract deer becomes effective. Both doe-in-heat and buck grunt calls work, with the former attracting bucks in search of a mate and the latter pulling in bucks that want to chase competition off their territory. Decoys also works to attract either males taking an interest in does or males who might view them as competition. Natually, scents can also work during this phase if deployed properly at around waist height in the surrounding foliage.

This is what some hunters refer to as the “lock-down-phase. Its the period where the majority of does are being bred and the bucks are laid up with them in thick cover. This can make this phase of the rut very difficult to hunt. However, it isn’t impossible,and a keen hunter might be able to capitalize on a buck slipping up and breaking cover.

A tactic that I use during this phase is setting up in funnels, such as pinch-points, saddles, etc. Bucks often travel through these areas as they search for the next estrus doe.Oftentimes, bucks will finish breeding a doe during this phase and travel through these locations in search for another one.

As with the previous phase, using calls aggressively might still prove effective. Many bucks are still fired up during this phase, and the promise of another female might lure one in. They might not, however be as keen on driving out the competition as they previously were.

The Post Rut Phase

The post rut phase is generally one of the toughest phases to hunt. Breeding should have died down by now, though a few does might still enter estrus during this phase. However, breeding activity isn’t the only factor that effects deer behavior during this phase. The elevated hunting levels during the peak of the rut, in particular, would have pressured the deer into being a lot more cautious.

The peak breeding season in my State occurs during mid-November, though some breeding may occur in October and as late as January. The onset of the rut in bucks and estrus in does is controlled mostly by decreasing day length.

Best of Luck to you in your next Season!

Ken

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