10 Tips for the Rut

M y favorite month of the year has finally arrived. I have been preparing for this season for months now.

I have shot hundreds of arrows at targets at unknown distances. I have sighted in my rifle so that it is dead on and I feel confident of success if I get my chance at a nice whitetail. 

In Texas, our peak rut differs depending on where you live. It ranges from the last two weeks in October up north to December in South Texas. One thing is certain. No matter where you hunt, the following are 10 important things to remember during the rut to help achieve success.

Walking to and from your stand: Sometimes the only important thing you may be thinking about is getting to your stand as quickly as possible, so you are ready to hunt in plenty of time. You trample through the woods directly to your stand without a care in the world about the wind direction or the excessive noise you make with every step. If the wind is at your back as you walk toward your stand, then you might as well keep on walking. Any whitetails that were in your area have now vacated to another county. 

Humans are the only animals in the woods with a rhythm to their walk. Think about that for a minute. It’s true! Try walking to your stand and stop often to sound more like another animal. If you have paid attention to the wind, and walk while stopping once in a while, you have a better chance at seeing deer.

Control your scent: We stink—at least to a deer. Fortunately, there are products on the market that will help hide that human odor. Nothing is 100 percent, but 99 percent is pretty good. Wildlife Research Center offers a wide variety of scent control products that I have personally field-tested and believe in. They work, simple as that. They are my “go to” choice for scent control.

One shower in the morning is not enough if you also plan on an afternoon hunt. You should shower every time you go afield. It goes without saying that you should clean your hunting clothes with a scent-free product as well.

Hunt all day: I know this is hard to do, but during the rut, deer are on the move all day long. You never know when that big boy is going to reveal himself. And you need to be ready when that time comes. So many hunters leave the stands and stretch their legs. And that usually happens around lunchtime. Pack a lunch with you and stay in that stand. Let the other hunters kick deer around for you. 

Hunt food sources: Even during the rut, deer still need to eat. Yes, bucks will eat less with other things on their minds, but the does will be feeding. Where there are does, there will be bucks. Remember those apple trees or oak trees that may be on your lease. It might be a perfect spot to be.

Rattling: Where I live, there is a small window when it is great to rattle in a buck. The last week of October and the first week of November are golden for rattling. However, bucks have been known to come to a rattle at any time of the rut. So if you have had a slow, boring morning, try rattling. It can’t hurt.

Grunting: My grunt tube is my American Express card of the woods—I don’t leave home without it. I cannot tell you how many bucks I have turned my way by letting out a grunt. I am not saying I got them, but they DID turn my way.

Once I was hunting with a friend from Greece, and he was excited to take any deer with his bow. We were only about 100 yards apart. I had a nice six–point walk about 40 yards behind me, heading away from my friend. I was not going to shoot it because I had my heart set on a bigger boy, but I thought I would try to get this deer to head back to my friend. I turned in the stand and bent the tube grunt call in his direction and lightly grunted. That buck stopped, turned and walked right at my friend’s stand. 

Using a Decoy: So many hunters have told me they just do not want to bother carrying something else in the woods with them. Take it from me, during the peak of the rut, a decoy could be the very thing you need to lure that big buck in range. Last month, I wrote about how a grazing doe decoy could calm down the most skittish buck in the county. It looks relaxed and not alarmed at all. A decoy with a little “doe in heat” scent would make your hunt unforgettable. Believe me, it works,and it is worth the effort.

Check your sights: Most ethical hunters make sure they check the sights on your bow and rifles months before the whitetail season begins. However, a lot can happen during the season with those sights. A bump here and there or just taking your firearm in and out of your vehicle could change the sight alignment. Make sure that just before the rut, you check them again so that you can be assured of that humane shot.

Hunt during the Peak:  Take vacation days; make previous arrangements; get sick—promise your boss some venison. Do whatever is necessary to hunt during the peak of the rut. That is your best chance of scoring on a nice buck. Remember, just because the bucks will be preoccupied with does on their mind, it does not mean they will pay no attention to you. You will still have to use your best hunting skills to be successful, but you definitely will be seeing more bucks on the move this time of year, so get out there and hunt!

Flowers: That is correct. I said it. Flowers during the rut. Your Better Half needs to be understanding if you plan on spending extra time in the woods and not at home. So make sure you order the flowers. It would be perfect if they could be delivered the day before the peak of the rut.

I can promise you this: if you pay attention to all of these little tips during the rut, you will increase your chances of success.


Email Lou Marullo at ContactUs@fishgame.com

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