Harold Knight and David Hale, the founders of Knight and Hale Game Calls in Cadiz, Kentucky, both believe that you’ll have your best opportunity to take a trophy buck during the rut.
Let’s examine the strategies they use to bag a big buck at this time of the year. According to Knight, “Although I hunt exclusively from a tree stand when I bowhunt, often I’ll hunt from the ground during the rut when I hunt with a rifle. The real secret to hunting from the ground is to use a wind checker and constantly be aware of the wind’s direction. You must always walk into the wind when you hunt on the ground. You must respect the deer’s nose and its ability to detect human odor. By being mobile, you can check scrapes, bedding areas, feeding regions, creek crossings and funnels all in a day’s time for a big buck.
The second most-important ingredient to successfully hunting from the ground during the rut is that you must move very slowly. The slower you move, the more deer you’ll see. Even if a deer spots you moving slowly, if he can’t detect your human form, then you still won’t spook him. Walk as though you know the deer is watching you, which he probably is. Don’t make any quick moves, and be conscious not to step on sticks and branches that pop under your feet.”
Although many sportsmen hunt scrape lines, food sources and travel corridors during the rut, David Hale suggests you hunt broom sage fields often not more than 2 or 3 acres in size. “These kinds of places are where you’ll never hunt at other times of the year, because there’s no reason for bucks to be there at other times of the year,” Hale explains. “A buck likes to show himself in these sites to attract does. By setting up a tree stand on the edge of a small, non-agricultural field like this, I’ve taken more bucks during the rut than at any other types of tree stand site. The other advantage to hunting these small fields is that the deer will rarely if ever encounter hunter pressure there. Any type of field that has foliage up about 3- to 4-foot high is a prime field to set up a tree stand during the rut.”
“How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “Deer and Fixings,” “PhD Whitetails,” and “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros,” by John E. Phillips. “Click here to get these books.”
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.