Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Managing the Rut

                                                Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

It’s funny how experts can take a subject is simple as whitetail sex and develop it into a complicated and elaborate ordeal. Some writers have broken it down into the four stages of the rut, while others, trying to appear more sophisticated, have actually taken it to seven stages.

Is there any wonder why we become so confused about the timing of the rut?

I’m just a country boy from Idaho. I was always taught K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid.

Forget the stages, there’s only one rut. That being the time of the year when the does are giving the bucks piggy-back ride. Everything else is either pre-rut or post rut. All of this discussion about the various stages of the rut makes about as much sense as arguing whether the “glass is half-full or half-empty”. Which is which is only a hunter's point of view, certainly not the deer's.

Simply put, the rut takes place each fall over a couple of week period..Within that period, there is a narrow 4 to 6 day window where the majority of the does, let’s say 80%, are bred.

Learn more about the "Rut" here

Ideally we want to time our hunt for the week immediately prior to or immediately following this narrow 4-6 day window. Early in the rut the bucks are solitary, hog fat and eager to breed. They will be on the move all day long. Now’s a good time calling or to hunt over a primary scrape. The bucks will be scent checking the primaries scrapes daily, if not several times a day. It’s their way of finding out what’s going on in the neighborhood. Kind of like reading the morning paper is to us.

Midway through the rutting season the majority of the does come into heat. This is when the bucks are seeing the most action and, sadly, the hunters are seeing the least. Calling is least effective at this time. No buck worth his salt will leave a sure thing and respond to rattling, grunting, or scent lures. During this narrow window the does spend the majority of their time laying around with a buck standing over her. If she dares to stand the buck will be on top of her in a heartbeat. As soon as she is no longer receptive, she’ll give the buck a couple of good swift kicks between his legs and he’ll be off looking for love elsewhere. This is when he is most vulnerable.

As the rut winds down the books are no longer solitary. This is when we begin to see a large bucks hanging around with doe groups. By now most of the does have been bred, but. there will still be a few does coming into heat. The bucks follow does around like puppy dogs, hoping for one last stab at it before winter settles in. The biggest drawback in hunting at the tail end of the rut is there sre many eyes to catch our movement.

What’s most important to remember about the rut, is that it’s about the does not the bucks. The duo will only be in heat for about 24 hours. If you miss that opportunity, you missed your opportunity. The short answer to hunting the rut is; do what the bucks are doing, hunt doe groups.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

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