Pre-rut Advantage: How to Waylay a Giant Buck
Posted on June 28, 2013
This exclusive five-part segment will teach you how to waylay a giant buck before the rut begins. We will cover the advantages of hunting scrapes, scouting, avoiding detection and resources. For now let’s get a preliminary intro to this hunt:
As much as I am against enclosures for taking trophy whitetails, enclosures for biological studies can yield some interesting data. While deer behavior in enclosures cannot be compared to deer behavior in the real world where deer get hunted, some behaviors are somewhat consistent to them.
Studies in enclosures have shown that as bucks age, they naturally move less during daylight hours. Throw in hunting pressure and daytime movements become much less frequent. And throw in heavy hunting pressure and mature buck daytime movements nearly come to a complete halt. However, rises in testosterone levels during the rut phases do cause some daytime activity even in the most heavily hunted areas. Knowing when, where, and how to hunt during the rut periods can make the difference between consistent success and failure.
In states where gun season takes place during the full-blown rut, the short seven- to 10-day pre-rut is the most productive time to pattern a mature buck. During pre-rut they will start to abandon their nocturnal bedding to feeding area habits and spend some daylight time looking for early estrous does. They follow a somewhat regular routine during this period making them vulnerable to bowhunters.
When the majority of does start entering their estrus cycles, the main rut begins and bucks abandon there somewhat consistent pre-rut routines to pursue does on there often, unpredictable routes. Once this happens, luck can play as big a role in the outcome of a hunt as skill.
Throughout the Midwest and northeast, the pre rut generally starts around Halloween and runs through the first week of November. Weather conditions can affect daytime movements during this period, with cold weather increasing it and warm weather decreasing it.
During the pre-rut in pressured areas, mature bucks generally continue to bed before daylight in cover and often near doe transition routes where does can be checked for receptivity as they pass through after daylight. If nothing of interest passes through they will usually get up between 10am and 3pm to scent check their core area, checking the interiors and perimeters of bedding areas, transition corridors offering cover between bedding areas, and any primary scrape area that offers security cover.
Stay tuned to find out how to get the advantage!
By John Eberhart