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