Every hunter with any experience knows that a bucks behavior during the rut season evolves quickly. In order to capitalize on the whitetail rut, you must evolve your hunting strategy rapidly as well. in order to do this, it is important to match your tactics to match the exact point of the rut you are hunting in.
The whitetail rut can be broken down into three distinct phases, the pre-rut, peak rut and post rut. Most hunters believe that the best time to bag a monster is during peak rut, however, if you have done a bit of homework before the rut season, you will find success elsewhere.
No two parts of the rut season are the same. Let's take a look at each.
Step 1: Pre-Rut- The Seek & Chase Phase
The Pre-Rut, sometime called the seek and chase phase, can be the best time to hunt for big bucks. By scouting at the end of the previous season, you will already know where the bedding areas, rub lines and travel trails are located. The good news is, the bucks who survived last season will likely be back in the same areas this season.
This phase can often fool hunters who have less experience. Hunters sometimes mistakenly assume that the rut is getting underway because they see a few bucks chasing does early in the season. These bucks are usually the younger bucks who are experiencing the rut for the first time.
Resist the temptation to follow the does and focus your attention in these areas:
1. Focus on early season food sources. Take time to glass these fields at first & last light.
2. Learn the bucks entrance & exit routes. Bucks are creatures of habit, by learning the places that they enter and exit the food sources, you can place your tree stand accordingly.
3. Stick to the rub lines. Even though the peak rut is not on you, look for the rubs. As the rut season progresses the bucks will begin to strengthen their neck muscles for the fighting which will be starting soon.