Dominating the Rut

February 19, 2009 by  

By Andrew Gegelman

Finally it is here, the Rut!! It is a time of craziness, bucks moving all hours of the day in pursuit of hot does, seeing deer that you have only imagined. One minute the woods can be silent the next there can be deer all around you. The trophy you have always dreamed about is just over the next hill or in the next bunch of trees, can you see him?
As everyone already knows, or should, the rut up in our neck of the woods occurs in the early to middle part of November. The amount of signs that bucks are leaving behind is at its peak. Scrapes are one of those signs. The best places to look for scrapes are along ridges, fence lines, edges, and openings in heavy timber. Openings in the heavy timber are usually prime areas to set up along a scrape line. Mature bucks feel very safe in these secluded places. Scrape hunting can be difficult, since the majority of scrapes are made at night, but it can also be very productive given the right circumstances. The key to hunting scrape lines is to make the buck hunt you. Use “dominant buck” in rut scents in either existing scrapes or in mock scrapes. If you are thinking of making a mock scrape, place it in an area where there are already scrapes. When you find a scrape line, locate a tree with a overhanging branch about five feet above the ground.

Underneath the branch, use a sturdy stick, clear an area on the ground about 3 feet by 4 feet, be very careful about your scent, if a mature buck smells something odd, you won’t see him. Next place some sort of scent in the scrape. The best type to use is either a buck in rut urine, estrus doe, or a combination of the two. Another little trick is to put some sort of glandular scent on the overhanging branch. Be down wind of this mock scrape.

Another great place to set up is a long a rub line. Activity on rub lines drops off a little bit during the heat of the rut, but bucks don’t change their normal travel route, they just don’t do as much rubbing. When you find a rub line, you can generally assume the size of the buck, and the direction that it is traveling. As a general rule, a buck travels in an oval shape from bedding, to feeding, and back. Considering this, the location of the rub on the tree will help find his bedding area. For example, if you are walking through the trees heading north and the rub is on the opposite side of the tree, the buck’s general direction is south.

Look at these pictures, the buck is going away from you.

If you know where the buck is feeding, you will know the general direction of his bedding area by the direction he is traveling. To learn how big the buck is, generally, a big buck will rub a big tree, a small buck will rub a small tree. Larger bucks will rub on all sizes of trees, but smaller bucks will not rub on larger trees. If you find a rub the size of your forearm or larger, you are probably dealing with a larger deer. When examining a rub, look at the trees behind the rub. Are there any tine marks on them? If so, you can generally assume how tall the buck’s rack is by how far the tine marks are away. Also, look up the tree from where the bark is rubbed off, if there are any tine marks, it will give you a general idea of the height of the rack, by how high the marks are on the tree. Deep gouges in the rub usually mean the buck has a lot of character on the base of its antlers, sticker points, etc. if you are in to that sort of thing like I am.

During the rut, calling can be really effective. In my previous article, I talked about what type of calls to use. These will also work during the rut. Rattling, buck grunts, doe bleats, or combinations of them has and will work if the right buck hears them. Rattling is something to do during the middle of the day when deer activity is down, but it is effective at any time of the day. You won’t call a deer in every time so don’t get frustrated when nothing responds, just try again.

Finally, go where the girls are! Have you been seeing does feeding, or traveling in certain areas earlier in the season? Go to these spots if you want to find your buck. Intercept him in between a doe’s bedding and feeding area. This is the prime time of the year for deceiving the big bucks, good luck!


2 Comments on "Dominating the Rut"

  1. adam orendach on Sat, 28th Nov 2009 9:30 am 

    i live in the middle pa and its almost the end of november can i still use the horns and grunt calls?

  2. buckman10 on Mon, 4th Jan 2010 9:14 am 

    i love whitetale hunting and even tho ive only been huntin alone for just 7 years, iv seen almost 200 deer. i hunt here in and around my small town in SC and i shot my first buck in 2008. it was a 195lbs 10 pt and it was 845 in tha mornin. man i was tha happiest doy in tha whole world tht mornin. i was shootin my savage arms .308 rifle. i wouldnt trade that damn gun for nuthin.

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