Pre-rut Advantage: Scouting & Avoiding Detection

Posted on July 17, 2013

We bring you the final installment of this exclusive five-part segment. Be sure to check out the last four parts. In Part 1 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. Part 4 covered resources. Now it’s time to learn about scouting and avoiding detection. We hope you’ve enjoyed this segment!

 

There are many key advantages to hunting the prerut over the rut. However, the most important one is consistent buck movements, which allows you to set up more effectively. These bucks taken by the author are testament of that.

There are many key advantages to hunting the prerut over the rut. However, the most important one is consistent buck movements, which allows you to set up more effectively. These bucks taken by the author are testament of that.

 

While over hunting a location is normally considered taboo, consecutive hunts in a hot location during the pre-rut is not only acceptable it is recommended. Bucks have a routine during the short pre-rut period that can be taken advantage of. It bears repeating that when hunting an active primary scrape area or in a funnel between bedding areas during the pre rut, to stay on stand through midday. Many hunters talk about this, but in reality it is rarely practiced. Both bucks I took in Michigan in 2004 were taken during midday in active primary scrape areas during the pre rut.

 

If you must scout during season try to do it during a hard rain or on very windy days. Extremely bad weather will mask both the noise you make and the scent you leave when looking for and preparing a stand location. Hunting high and wearing an activated carbon suit and clean rubber boots is also advised. Twenty-five feet or higher is advised unless hunting in a conifer or an oak that held its leaves, or in the crotch of a large tree. The added height will help keep you out of the deer’s peripheral vision and allow you to actually make some movement in preparation for a shot.

 

My preference is to set up any pre-rut hunting locations during the post season in order to keep human odor and activity out of the area during season. During the post season or as soon as the snow is gone in the spring, all previous rut sign such as scrape areas, rubs, and rut period runways are still visible. When pre-season scouting all previous rut sign other than rubs is gone.

 

It is also very important when setting up locations for the pre-rut, to set up in trees that will provide you with the best cover, keeping in mind that during the pre-rut most trees will have lost their foliage. Unless in an oak that holds its leaves late or in a conifer, my preference is to hunt 25 to 35 feet high, to keep me out of the their peripheral vision.

The author hunts exclusively from a TrophyLine tree saddle. He consider it a secret to his success.

The author hunts exclusively from a TrophyLine tree saddle. He consider it a secret to his success.

In the early 1980s I started using a harness system that has literally changed the way I hunt from trees. The current harness system I use is the Ambush saddle by Trophyline. The Ambush saddle rolls and fits in my backpack with the rest of my gear and extra clothing, and it weighs only two and a half pounds. It has its own safety-climbing strap, is totally quiet during set up and hunting, allows 360 degree shooting mobility from most trees, and once accustomed to it, is extremely comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. The saddle also opens up many more options of available trees to hunt from, including leaning, small, and large diameter trees.

 

While mentioning the saddle deviates from the content of this article, it is a very important tool that allows me to pre-prep as many trees as necessary without having to purchase multiple stands, or be concerned about having them stolen or hunted from when I am not there. Simply put, the saddle offers many advantages that can make you a more consistently successful hunter.

 

Editors note: To enrich your bowhunting skills John Eberhart produced a 3 volume instructional DVD series titled “Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails” and with his son Chris authored the books “Precision Bowhunting” and “Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails” They are available at: deer-john.net 

 

By John Eberhart

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