Pre-rut Advantage: Food, Travel Zones & Calling

Posted on July 11, 2013

In Part 1 of this exclusive five-part segment , we got you primed for hunting a giant  buck before the rut begins. Part 2 covered hunting primary scrapes and Part 3 looked at the advantages of hunting early in the day. Now let’s look at some tips for resources. 

Do all you can to link the food source used by does, since bucks won’t be far behind. Also, remember, any food source must also offer transition cover to and from it for daytime visits by mature bucks, particularly in pressured areas.

Do all you can to link the food source used by does, since bucks won’t be far behind. Also, remember, any food source must also offer transition cover to and from it for daytime visits by mature bucks, particularly in pressured areas.

 

Power of Food

Food attracts does and does attract bucks. This simple fact makes preferred food sources located within cover next on the list. Some common preferred food sources that can be found within cover or supply their own cover are standing corn, white oak acorns, and apples. Any food source must also offer transition cover to and from it for daytime visits by mature bucks. It can not be overstressed that when hunting in pressured areas that you only set up on sign that offers perimeter security or transition cover.

 

Key Travel Zones

Funnels or transition routes between bedding areas are next. These funnels or routes may be an overgrown fencerow, long narrow patch of brush, a ditch with tall weeds, or an area of good understudy in an otherwise open mature woodlot. Basically anywhere there is condensed cover between bedding areas or between bedding areas and feeding areas. When setting up in a funnel try to pick a location from which you can shoot its entire width. If the funnel is too wide choose the location where the runways or sign is most concentrated.

 

A funnel can even be as simple as a couple of trees connecting two areas of cover. In November 1977 I took an 11-point buck while hunting from a solitary oak located in a twenty-yard gap between a large wooded area and a stand of mature white pines. There were short weed fields on either side of the oak and it offered the best available cover between the pines and wooded area. When faced with the choice of crossing an open field or taking a route with cover, even very little cover, deer will most often choose the route with cover.

When setting up in a funnel try to pick a location from which you can shoot its entire width.

When setting up in a funnel try to pick a location from which you can shoot its entire width.

Funnels between bedding areas require the same hunting time frame as primary scrape areas, stay away from them until the pre rut. During the pre rut, funnels offering cover will become travel corridors by bucks as they cruise from bedding area to bedding area scent checking for estrous does. It is important to hunt these spots until at least noon or, if you have the time, all day.

 

Calling

Rattling, or grunting can be effective when hunting a primary scrape area during the pre-rut if done properly and in moderation. This is also the time to really consider using a decoy if you are hunting open areas. If the situation is right a combination of tactics could be deadly. Hunt an active scrape area clean the first time prior to using any tactics. Anytime you use tactics, such as calling, rattling, or a decoy to bring in a mature buck, he will come in much more alert and aware of his surroundings, thus making it more difficult to get off a shot.

 

Stay tuned for the final part of this exclusive segment!

 

By John Eberhart

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