3 Top Deer Rut Stands

tree stand hunter#1 Spot On: Best time, scraping/seeking, November 1-8

Details: Let’s say you spot a giant 10-pointer in a food plot or crossing a road…Once the buck moves on, sneak over there and check it out. If the nearest wooded ridge or draw is laced with fresh scrapes and rubs, Mr. Big will be back through there–maybe later that afternoon, or tomorrow morning or on the third day. But the big dude will back because he’s not yet gone on the lam for does. Move in tight, try to hang a stand on a trail near all those rubs and scrapes and hope for a shot at the buck as he trolls back through.

#2 Cover Scrape: Best phase, scraping first week of November. Now!

Details: Scout for rank scrapes back in the woods and around thickets where you know some does bed. Those are the ones an old buck is most likely to hit at dawn or dusk. You might even get the drop on a big deer checking a “cover scrape” around 9:00 or 10:00 o’clock in the morning.  Play the wind and set a bow stand 100 yards or so off a line of smoking scrapes. Hunting a ways off them lessens the odds of deer coming in and seeing or smelling you. It also gives you a better view of the cover as you watch for a big rack coming from any direction.

#3 Little Funnel: Best phases, seeking, chasing and through peak rut, November 4-18.

Details: It would be nice if every funnel were big and obvious or shaped like an hourglass, with 2 huge blocks of timber connected with a thin stem of trees or brush. But most of the best bottlenecks to watch are much more understated—and overlooked by hunters. Look close for a thin, dry strip between 2 sloughs; a low spot in a fence; an opening in a windrow…and hang your bow stand there. There are literally hundreds of nondescript terrains that affect and confine the movements of bucks; hunt there and be in position for a shot.

Pennsylvania 166″ Archery Buck

PA big daddy 2017 buck
From longtime BIG DEER blogger Big Daddy:
Mike: I killed this 166″ buck with my bow today October 28 2017 @ 8:30 AM over a mock scrape I made along his rub line.–Terry “Big Daddy” Murphy
This beautiful buck is a milestone for Big Daddy, as it is the 40th archery-killed buck of his hunting career in PA, which is a one-buck state. Way to go BD!

Hanback’s 2017 Hunt Predictions Coming True

KY alex 3I hate to say I told you so, but…

On Twitter in July and August, I tweeted several times that 2017 was setting up to be the best whitetail season since 2010.

In September I posted here on the blog:

I like the way this year’s moon sets up… It exposes and enhances the seeking phase of the pre-rut in late October… Halloween into the first week of November is a good time to bowhunt in any season. This year, with the moon waxing toward full–91% visible on November 1 to 100% bright on November 4-5–the hunting should be especially good near food sources in the afternoons. If a cold front sweeps into your hunt area, better yet…

In the last 2 weeks I have seen dozens of pictures of recently killed monsters, from 170” to 200”, especially from Iowa, Indiana and Ohio. The moon was right and the cold fronts sealed the deal!

And heck, the best hunting and the rut are just starting. And it’s not even gun season yet in most states.

If you are hunting next week, which you should be (call in sick if you haven’t scheduled vacation) remember what I wrote in my 2017 moon guide:

While it flies in the face of what many scientists and hunters believe, I love hunting a full moon in early November because in my experience, the deer rut hard all day. You’re apt to see a shooter on his feet at 8:00 a.m.…11:00 a.m.…2:00 p.m….any day this week, so hang on stand as long as you can.

I will be sitting (and freezing) in a ground blind in northern Saskatchewan from November 5 till the 10th, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Hunt hard as much as you can the next 2 weeks, good luck.


Q&A: 6 Tips For Whitetail Rut

big rubs

How do I locate and hunt a dominant buck in my area?—Buford

Look for rubs 3-5 inches in diameter (or larger). Clusters of big rubs are sign a big buck is working the area. Hang trail cams over fresh scrapes near the rubs to get a snap-shot of the dominant buck, probably working it at night. If and when you catch the buck on his feet in daylight, move in and hunt him!

Where would you spend the most time hunting in the rut—around feeding or bedding areas, on main trails or in funnels?—Steve A.

My #1 Rut Spot: Set up on the downwind side of the intersection of two trails with fresh tracks and rimmed with rubs and scrapes. The thicker and more remote the spot, the better. A big deer might prowl by any time of day in the rut.

Is there a primary rut and then a second rut?–Judy

Yes, adult does not bred or impregnated during peak rut in November will cycle back into estrous 28 days later, leading to a second rut in December. Rut activity can be good but spotty then…the second rut is more unpredictable and rarely as intense as the first.

Why do bucks where I hunt always seem to run off when I rattle?  But grunting works great.—Bob

I have found that bucks simply respond better to rattling in some regions than others. Or you might be rattling too early in October, when it can spook deer. Try it from Halloween through November 15, when bucks are wild and apt to respond. Grunting is a far less aggressive tactic that works well anywhere all season.

spartan buck scrape

I’ve tried everything, but I have no luck hunting scrapes. Got any tips? George

Walk right by any scrapes you find on field edges and in open woods. Hang tree stands to watch fresh scrapes in thick cover back in the woods. You’ll at least have a shot of spotting a buck on his feet in daylight hours.

Which is better, hot-doe or buck urine? Bob

From Halloween through November 10 or so, try buck urine/tarsal to attract a buck to the stink of a rival buck (you). In peak rut and into December, lay scent trails and hang wicks doused with doe-in-heat. 

scent over scrape


4 Great Treestands for October Deer

tree stand hunter compressed

You can’t go wrong hanging your tree stand in one of these spots:

Break Line: Look for a linear strip where pines, cedars or hardwood trees come together with brush, tall grass or second-growth saplings. Deer walk and browse on these edges; bucks rub and scrape on the lines as the rut approaches.

Oak Ridge: A narrow hogback with acorn trees within 100 yards of a corn or bean field is one of my favorite spots. Deer cut around points, ditches and gullies on a  ridge; hang stands on these terrains to funnel bucks close. Bucks will stage, eat acorns and browse in ridge thickets not only in the evenings, but in the mornings as well.

Creek/River Crossing: Water funnels deer that move through your woodlot. The animals cling to cover on the banks, and ford the water at shallow places. Put stands there.

Fencerow: Deer and bucks in particular cling to brushy or tree-lined fence rows when traveling from fields to woods or between blocks of timber. Play the wind and set your stand near one end of a fencerow, or in a corner where the fence runs into the woods.