Pre-Rut Tips & Tactics for Hunting Whitetail Buck Deer
- 30 Aug, 2020
All avid bow hunters and gun hunters alike know the power of the rut when it comes to having a chance to harvest a trophy whitetail. Bucks wander far and wide in search of does and move through areas that are outside of their home range, dropping their guard and frequently moving during daylight hours, this mass exodus of bucks on the move in search of does give us hunters a plenty of opportunities to get them in range. With that being said, f you pay attention to detail, you can tag out early in a time when bucks are establishing their territories and search out groups of does in preparation for things to come. In this article we will take a look at some of the tactics you can use to harvest a buck in the weeks before the rut in October.
My Father with a buck he patterned running scrape lines in daylight hours
Find the Does
This one might seem fairly obvious, but when I say find the does I don't necessarily mean sitting on a food source that does frequent on nearly a daily basis. While this is by no mean a bad place to hunt, we want to take a more detailed approach to this. Finding where groups of does are when the aren't present at a food source is what I mean. Find the travel corridors that these does are using to go to and from their food sources as well as frequent bedding areas and set your stands up accordingly. I prefer this over food sources for the simple fact that bucks are going to frequent these areas more so during the daylight hours more frequently then they would an open field. This is also a great opportunity to look for scrapes and rubs and use the next tactic on this list.
Areas with dense forest undergrowth or marshes are potential bedding areas
Hunting Scrapes and Rub Lines
It was an Unusually warm mid October day, with temps in the mid 70's as I climbed into my stand placed on an old logging trail that was near a very dense bedding area in northern Wisconsin. I moved a stand there for a reason, up and down that old logging trail, there was a series of scrapes directly on it. I had been making my own mock scrapes next to these scrapes, and scenting and scratching up the unknown bucks scrapes on a regular basis. I was essentially playing mind games with this buck, making him think that there was another buck on his territory. These scrape tactics are my favorite form of bow hunting and on that unusually hot fall day, I saw him walking strait at me down that logging trail. He went to the scrapes that both he and I made, checking the scent around them, and vigorously and angrily started tearing up the ground making the scrape about 6 feet in diameter. When he was done with this, he turned off the trail and bee lined directly to my tree, where at a distance of only 3 yards, I placed a perfect quartering away shot on him. Mind games work.
Give em a Call
Hunters who love using calls such as doe bleats and Grunt tubes are usually pretty successful in the weeks leading up to the rut. while not in full rut, there are does that start going into heat. This very low number of does are still being searched out by the increasingly territorial bucks, who are become increasingly more vocal during this time. If you have a buck in sight and want a shot, try using a doe bleat can or grunt to try to peak his interest. if the buck is unresponsive to these calls, there is one more trick you can do to try to engage his aggressiveness. A snort wheeze. This has worked for me on multiple occasions, now while they do make snort wheeze tubes that are simply nothing more than a plastic pipe, you can also do this by mouth with no call, and is typically the way I do it. 2 short and 1 long wheeze, by simply blowing air out of your pursed mouth as hard as you can might make that buck snap to attention and run straight to you with antlers forward looking for a fight. One late October day hunting a cedar swamp on the edge of a massive field, I saw a lone doe about 600 yards out in the middle of the empty field. After a while I looked back to where she was standing to see a quality 3.5 year old ten point with beautiful wide antlers about 50 yards behind her staring at her. I grunted several times as loud as I could to try to get the sound to reach, and while he did look, was uninterested in my calls, obviously having other things on his mind. This is when I pulled my trump card, the snort wheeze and blew the wheezes as loud and hard as I possibly could. I saw that buck snap his head to look directly at my tree from such a far distance, and he went into a full trot, crossing that field and jumping a barb wire fence and stopped broadside at 30 yards his head and ears pivoting to find the enemy. after 3 attempts to draw on him, I committed and sunk an arrow behind his shoulder. I was completely blown away that he ran 600 yards to fight and leaving the doe behind. Light Sparring type rattling can work too, despite some hunters thinking this is too early to rattle, I have had a ton of success doing some light rattling mixed in with vocal calling, and at time I have called in 4 or 5 bucks at once.
Article Author calling and rattling on a well used trail leading into thick pine bedding
This might sound weird to some, but I always prefer hunting the pre-rut than any other time, I just like the dynamics and the style of hunting at this time of the year. If you aren't already, I suggest using these tactics and really studying the events occurring in the woods this time of the year, and it might become your favorite time of the year to target whitetails as well.
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