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The 2013 RUT
Strategies, Tactics, and Timing Tips To Help You Better Hunt All Phases of the Rut

Sean McCosh (DuckBuckGoose) - PHJ ProStaff - Cincinnati, OH

As most hunters will agree, there is no better time to hunt deer than just before or during "the rut". What some hunters don't fully understand though, is that the rut has several phases - each of which can be more successfully hunted the better you understand them. In this article we will get right to the point and provide the most important things you need be aware of during each phase of the rut, and some average dates when these rut phases typically occur in the Northern and Mid-Western states. Please note that these dates will vary from year-to-year and region to region - so DO NOT use the dates provided this article as a replacement for scouting. You need to be in the field, or at least be in touch with buddies who are, to accurately determine when the initial rut phases begin in your area.
Buck Making Scrapte
Also, make sure to keep notes of what you see in your ProHuntersJournal.com online hunting Journal. You will be amazed at how keeping good records will help you recognize the different phases and be more accurate at predicting the timing of them from year to year.  Click here to set up your free online hunting journal now.

Phase: PRE-RUT

Average Dates: October 18 - November 2

Scouting Tactics: Scout food sources like Oak trees/acorns, fruit trees, cut corn, alphalpha and other mast which is likely to attract deer. Look for rubs and scrapes on the edges of these areas. Some scrapes may still be fairly faint in the earlier parts of the pre-rut.

Best Communication Tactics:
Grunting: grunting is perhaps the best communication method at this time.

Decoy: As bucks have rising testosterone levels at this time they are starting to check feeding sites for the first hot doe. Try a decoy in one of these areas and you might get a good shot.

Rattling: Bachelor groups may start establishing dominance/heirarchy at this time through sparring. Rattling during the pre-rut is more likely to attract subordinate bucks than the more mature bucks.

Important Notes: During this pre-rut you may start to see the first signs of rutting activity as a small percent (around 10%) of does come into estrus around the pre-rut moon, but that typically drops off quickly. Older does sometimes breed several weeks ahead of other does and bucks may start seeking them out at this time. Start looking for rubs and scrapes, especially towards the end of the pre-rut. These signs are left by bucks to let the does know that he is nearby and will be ready to give them some lovin' when they are ready...and that he'll be back soon.

Phase: SEEKING AND CHASING

Average Dates: November 3-12

Scouting Tactics: Look for fresh rubs and rub lines. If you find a hot one, hunt it as soon as possible.

Best Communication Tactics:
Grunting: If you're in a low pressure hunting area, grunting may be a great option during seeking and chasing. If you're in a high-pressure area however, it may be best to not do any calling at all.

Decoy: Intently looking for hot does, bucks can respond well to decoys during this phase.

Rattling: As testosterone levels in bucks are high at this time, they're more likely to pick a fight, or check out and challenge other sparing bucks to show their dominance. Rattling works best in areas with higher buck to doe ratios. In areas with low buck to doe ratios rattling should be used sparingly or not at all because bucks typically don't need to fight to find hot does.

Important Notes: Scrapes that were being checked frequently just a week or two ago are starting to be ignored and become less relevant, as bucks are starting to pursue does that are coming into estrous. They may, however start aggressively rubbing trees to vent their pent-up energy and show off their self-perceived dominance to other bucks. If you find one of these rubs during the late pre-rut, hunt it as soon as possible. If you're hunting an area that doesn't get a lot of pressure, you can feel free to grunt, snort-wheeze or doe bleat fairly aggressively. Be ready when you do. If you hunt a more pressured area, you'll want to use calling techniques more sparingly.

During this phase, bucks will start checking the does' scent and chase them aggressively. Find the does at this time and you're more likely to find the bucks. Younger bucks will travel the more prominent deer trails from doe area to doe area. Mature bucks will still follow heavier cover between doe areas (creek bottoms, ditches, strips of thick cover). Look for one of these areas with fresh tracks to find the big boys.


Phase: PEAK BREEDING

Average Dates:
November 13 - November 24

Scouting Tactics: Look for scrapes and rub lines and travel corridors between doe bedding areas. Get on stand and hunt all day.

Best Communication Tactics:
Rattling: During the actual rut most fighting is between dominant rivals of more equal stature and could scare off more subordinate bucks.

Grunting: Aggressive calling works well at this time, if hunting a low-pressure area.

Doe Bleat: Doe bleats work well at this time since bucks are aggressively looking for hot does.

Estrous Doe Lures: Estrous scents can work well at this time if used properly. Try using a drag-rag and making a figure-8 trail, placing your stand or blind at the apex. Trolling bucks may get wind of your trail and follow it right to your stand site. During the final day or two of the rut, try hunting thicker cover in or near a bucks core area again. They'll often return to these areas to recover after a very intense few weeks of chasing and breeding.

Important Notes: During peak breeding, bucks are looking to pair up with a hot doe and may be "hunkered down" with her during her 24-36 hour breeding cycle. During this time the woods may seem to quiet down. But don't be fooled, this is still a great time to be in the stand all day long. That's because big bucks will move at mid-day as they leave the doe they've just bred and seek out another that is just coming into estrous.


Phase: POST RUT & SECONDARY RUT

Average Dates: November 25-December 15

Scouting Tactics: During the post rut, hunt food sources next to thick cover. Bucks will be looking to feed in these areas to get their strength back after peak breeding.

Best Communication Tactics:
Doe Bleats & Estrous Scents: With the primary rut over, bucks are less likely to respond to aggressive grunts, tending grunts or rattling. However, as long as a buck is carrying his antlers we know his testosterone levels are still elevated, so calling with doe bleats and strategically using estrous scents can still work in your favor.

Important Notes: After they've had a few weeks to rest and feed in remote, heavy-cover areas, bucks will start to move again during the post-rut to look for younger does that didn't breed and are coming into heat. About 28 days after the peak rut, the 10%-20% of does, the ones that didn't get bred during their first estrous cycle, will become "hot" again. Find the does, particularly the younger does that are more likely to be coming into estrous late. If you find them, bucks will usually follow. This is a good time to set up near staging zones at doe bedding areas or brush covered field edges.

The post rut is the same as the peak-breeding phase in many ways, although it is much less intense and bucks are less aggressive. At this time bucks may still be roaming about and checking doe feeding and bedding areas to find the last un-bred doe. If you haven't filled your tag yet, stay the course. This is still a pretty good time to hunt.

Archery hunters may feel more hunting pressure once they get into early December, as this is the time when gun season begins in many Northern and mid-western states. If you hunt at this time be sure to wear blaze orange and be cautious of gun hunters. An upside to the gun season for all hunters is that the extra pressure can sometimes keep bucks on the move as they flee gun hunters who are moving about the woods.

For more tips and tactics for hunting the late season check the article 12 Tactics for Winter Whitetails.

By becoming more familiar with the distinct phases of the rut and changing your tactics accordingly, you will improve your odds of taking a big buck this year.  If you haven't registered and set up your own online hunting journal yet, you may want to do so now. It will help you figure out the phases of the rut this year and in the years to come.


Good luck this fall shoot straight!

 

Posted 7/23/2009
11:20
Excellent information, and you should keep this around throughout the entire deer seson.
I`m one of those who believe strongly in the effect of the moon on rutting activity. Air temperature can`t be a trigger, since if it influenced it much, deer wouldn`t breed some warmer than normal years. Charles Alsheimer from Deer and Deer Hunting is one of the primary proponets of moon phase and rutting activity, and I follow his predictions closely every year. The majority of breeding likely takes place under cover of darkness, so it`s sometimes difficult to know exactly what`s happening. If only we had more instances of the big bucks chasing hot does during daylight hours.
hunter480
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Joined: 7/8/2009
Posted 9/14/2009
20:40
Ill use it this year and let you know!!!
lekelso
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Joined: 9/14/2009
Posted 10/2/2009
22:42
Great information!! I plan on harvesting my first bow buck this year!! I've shot bow for many years, 3-D tournaments, but never have had the opporotunity to shoot a buck yet, hopefully this is my year!!
wolfman
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Joined: 10/2/2009
Posted 10/5/2009
10:36
as of 10/2 already finding scrapes and rubs in southern Indiana may be early rut this season temps have dropped early highs in the mid 60s and 40s overnight about a 15 degree drop from avg.
lt1e01
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Joined: 10/5/2009
Posted 10/8/2009
09:25
NEW TO THE SITE, BUT THIS IS VERY GOOD INFO! IM STILL TRYING TO FIND MY WAY AROUND THIS THING!
HUNTFUN07
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Joined: 10/7/2009
Posted 10/8/2009
20:03
im also new to the site. going to put it to use tommorrow!!! stay tuned and ill keep u posted ;)
hunt4deer
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Joined: 10/6/2009
Posted 10/11/2009
21:16
I hope to get my deer this year Buck or Doe.I am not choosie
Bob Crawford
bobcrawford
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Joined: 10/8/2009
Posted 10/14/2009
11:45
This is very true although it varys from area to area. If you notice the pre rut is earlier or even later take note add 28 days and this will be the primary rut, add 28 more days this will be the post rut. I agree about the moon phase and also about the days getting shorter. Good Luck All
David30
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Joined: 10/14/2009
Posted 10/27/2009
09:35
When using scents, I think it is very important to note that your hands should be completely scent free before using any scent. This is particular important for men as we exude a scent off our hands that is extremely distasteful for all wildlife (including deer and fish for that matter.) Use hand wipes or scent eliminator spray and air dry. DO NOT USE A HOUSEHOLD TOWEL TO DRY!!!
markbottorff
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Joined: 10/27/2009
Posted 10/28/2009
20:48
not sure where this is going. First time on site. The bucks in my part of Maryland are already starting to chase does. Mostly the small ones though.
toolman
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Joined: 10/19/2009
Posted 11/1/2009
14:26
great info..i did some scouting yesterday and found a great rub line..fresh rubs also found doe bedding
buckmaster25
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Joined: 10/19/2009
Posted 11/4/2009
23:52
I will have to try these tips during my hunt Nov.14-18
jonesk2
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Joined: 10/6/2009
Posted 11/11/2009
12:24
Great info I'll put it to good use in surch of my first kill.Just been unlucky in the past always in the wrong spot at the wrong time this should help
Quacky
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Joined: 10/30/2009
Posted 11/11/2009
19:14
N.Y. rifle season doesn't start until 11/21 so I'll have to wait, but very good info.
googs314
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Joined: 11/11/2009
Posted 12/8/2009
17:58
very good info.
Citadel2012
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Posted 12/30/2009
22:00
GOOD INFO, BUT OUR DATES ARE LATER DOWN SOUTH. IN CENTRAL MS JUST STARTING AND THE NEXT 5 TO 7 DAYS SHOULD BE GREAT.
EMS-BLOODHOUND
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Joined: 12/30/2009
Posted 6/9/2010
23:23
For more good info on this guys, check out the Alsheimer Rut Calendar‎. Just type it into Google and you'll see some good info come up about it.
DuckBuckGoose
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Posted 6/28/2010
15:12
So what do you guys think? Do you have any Rut Predictions for 2010? If so, let's hear them. It will be interesting to see how well we do at predicting the rut this year. As a tool, make sure you go back to your journals from last year (if you were a member then) and see which days had the highest game activity, what the weather was like, etc. Over time it really helps to have this data saved and easily accessible on PHJ!
DuckBuckGoose
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Posted 9/3/2010
14:09
I saw a promo today for "Alsheimer Makes Rut Predictions" in a newsletter I received from Deer & Deer Hunting. Here's the link to the video promo. http://deeranddeerhunting.com/tv/#6
DuckBuckGoose
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Posted 10/19/2010
22:41
im hoping this is pretty accurate. im going hunting tomorrow morning. i have been noticing some scrapes around in the woods. hopefullly the 10 point i have seen will come out tomorrow
tony67
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Joined: 9/21/2010
Posted 11/3/2010
12:13
i've seen young bucks chasing. two weeks ago. found scrapes last weekend. i'm in central arkansas in the heart of the south. so i'm not used to seeing the rut start this early. we had some unseasonably warm weather for most of october and just got our first good spell of cool weather. in the past i usually see bucks chasing around the 11th of november. so this is odd for me.
mossyhornslayer91
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Joined: 10/27/2010
Posted 11/8/2010
20:36
Hunting western TN and primitive weapon opened last weekend. I saw alot of doe movement but no bucks chasing. This could be due to the buck/doe ratio here in TN that I've heard about this year. Hoping its a later rut this year.
stvnellis
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Joined: 11/7/2010
Posted 7/17/2011
11:45
If i had to suggest another important key element in deer hunting success. It would be wind control ! Hunting with the wind in your favor,makes a big big difference in your hunting success ! Thanks for all the tips and i enjoyed reading your article... Good luck hunting everyone !
whitetail45
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Posted 9/5/2011
12:47
So for a hunter with a week vacation is it better to hunt with the full moon in the middle of our hunt or to hunt the days leading up to the full moon or the days after.
DreamHunter
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Posted 9/8/2011
10:59
I am new to the site this is great info! I have had more success hunting the days leading to the full moon. But that is personal preference.
adkstillhunter
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Posted 10/10/2011
16:02
I hunted for the first time this year on October 6th in South Central Missouri. I had a small 4 pt chasing a doe and on my way out of the woods I stopped to check a food plot, saw a nice 10 pt so I bleated with my mouth and he came within 10 yards. Crazy, this is too early for that isnt it?
genestanfield
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Posted 10/22/2011
21:52
I've been out twice so far this year. Second day of archery wind was blowing like 40 mph. Things are slow so far in my neck of the woods! Not seeing much.
Bowhunter289
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Joined: 10/21/2011
Posted 12/4/2011
05:39
Good info but for the Rut in East Central Alabama the Peak Rut is around Mid January. This information in the article can be adapted to the rut here. Fetuses from last year show the the date around Jan. 26 and this is a little different for each part of the state.
greywolf
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Joined: 1/10/2011
Posted 9/24/2012
20:56
This is the same info I received from the guys that sell code blue. I take it to heart and have found that just using buck urine and soft grunts pull the bucks in. light rattiling helps but if you get to agressive it spokes all the deer. I love this post and this being my 5th hunting season I hope to have my best season yet and bring home my first buck and have my first bow harvest.
davendeer
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Joined: 7/19/2012
Posted 11/30/2012
22:50
Seen a few good lookin bucks... just not the one for me yet..
Joined: 10/18/2012
Posted 12/12/2012
09:40
Boling8
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Joined: 12/12/2012
Posted 12/12/2012
09:42
Yes this site is very good i followed the date that was said and all is correct base on the prediction ofthe rut.
Boling8
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Joined: 12/12/2012
Posted 12/15/2012
16:43
Bucks are active rt now, late evening INDIANA
FUCKYOU
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Joined: 12/15/2012

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