Tips For Hunting The Whitetail Deer Rut

I want to take some time today and talk about some tips for hunting the whitetail deer rut. Deer hunting is not as easy as shooting fish in a barrel and takes some skill to do.

  The rut is made up of three stages — the pre-rut, the peak rut and the post-rut. During the pre-rut period, which is during the fall, the bucks are beginning to be more antagonistic and their group starts breaking up.

The antlers of the male deer start to harden and the bucks begin rubbing them on trees or shrubs. They will then start challenging other bucks and become more aggressive. During this time, numerous rubs and scrapes are created and shallow depressions and bare patches are created as they paw on the ground. Their scents are left in the scrapes to attract does. When the does are ready to breed and after being able to investigate the scrapes made, they may urinate on the scrapes made by the buck as a signal for him.

As a few does start to come into heat, the intensity level heightens and the scrape and rub activities increase dramatically.

During this period, you should hunt any chance you get. Work fresh scrapes and rubs for the big bucks. Hunters will usually have a short time span of approximately 7to 10 days to kill a dominant buck before the majority of does come into heat.

The rutting season has begun when the does, go into estrus, or heat, which lasts only about 24 to 36 hours. Not all does do not go into estrus at exactly the same time. Also, if the doe is not bred during the time she is in heat, she will recycle in 21-30 days. This is the main reason the rut period may last for as much as 3 months. During the peak of the rut approximately 1/3 of the does will be bred in the period of one week.

It is during the rutting period, when bucks are less cautious and are quite preoccupied looking for a receptive doe that the chance of bagging your trophy whitetail is never better. During the post-rut period, the bucks’ scraping and rubbing stops. They can no longer find a doe in estrus and their hormone levels also decrease. It is your best bet to make the most of your hunting time during the pre-rut and rutting season.

 Let’s take a look at some common tips that you can use during the whitetail rutting period. We’re going to talk about things like Deer Calling, Deer Decoying, Scents and Deer Rattling.

Deer Rattling:

Rattling is the sound made by two bucks fighting when they rattle their antlers against each other.

Hunters are divided when it comes to rattling as a tactic in deer hunting. Either the hunter has complete confidence in it or finds it to be utterly useless to the point of just being a gimmick. The fact is, rattling does work. However, it does not work all the time.

The first that you should realize about rattling is that it works anytime during the rut. However it works best during pre-rut when Deer are the most aggressive. It is also important to remember that rattling is most effective when you see the deer before it sees you. Deer can hear rattling over longer distances and over wind noise better than other types of calls.

The technique of rattling is a type of deer calling that involves the use of two sets of antlers, usually artificial ones, which will be handled by a person who may be assisting the hunter while he hides in the bushes. The person will then rattle against each other the two sets of antlers giving the effect of two bucks fighting over an estrus doe. The goal it to have the buck along the area to hear the antlers and have them come and check out what the ruckus is all about.

Many believe that it is best to rattle little than do it gingerly since it may create the illusion to big bucks that smaller bucks are the ones sparring and may come forward thinking that it can easily defeat them. Also, loud rattling may just spook the deer instead of attracting it.Rattling is a good and working whitetail-hunting tactic but it has to be given a chance to work

Deer do not come out to join a fight just anytime. Much of this will happen depending on the deer’s mood, the environment, the date, the season, the conditions and the surroundings among others.The ideal spots for rattling are those that provide plenty of cover. The site should also be able to allow for enough open space where the whitetail can cross and for the hunters can have a better shot.

Deer Calling:

When making use of deer calling to hunt for that trophy whitetail, the key is to make sure that the calling tactics and strategy match the specific whitetail behavior during the time you are doing your hunt. To use an analogy, dear calling is like greeting somebody “Merry Christmas” during Christmas. It should coincide with the times. You do not say “Happy New Year” to somebody when what you are celebrating is the fourth of July. There are four common types of deer calls that are proven to be effective in attracting the buck. However, these four deer calls cannot be used interchangeably or simultaneously. As was already said, you should be able to know when to use what deer call.

Types of Deer Calls

Grunting– this is done to challenge the big buck’s dominance. Hearing grunts, which indicates the aggression of a buck towards another one, in a territory that it considers to be its own will have him coming out immediately.

  • The most common deer call is the grunt, or sometimes know as the buck grunt. Bucks are territorial and by using a grunt call you are announcing the presence of a challenger in that particular area. This call is best used during the pre rut phase.
  • The tending grunt is a sound made as the buck trails a doe and is his way of asking the doe to stop so they can breed. Make a series of 10-15 short grunts with your deer grunt call to mimic the tending grunt.

Bleating– Bleating is the sound made by does and fawns. This is their way to contact each other or to indicate distress or request for help. Does also make this call to express social relations, to allow the buck to know its location and also to give a sound of distress.

  • The fawn bleat is usually made by fawns that have gotten lost or in danger. Does will instinctively run to this sound even if it is not their own fawn. This works good for bringing does in closer, but during the rut a buck could be hot on her tail!
  • Doe Estrus Bleat – This non-aggressive call is made by does when they are in heat. This sound is made by the does to tell the bucks that it’s time to breed. This sound is best used at the end of the pre rut through the first part of the rut.

There is no one deer call to use and it usually depends on which rut phase you are hunting. There are usually general guidelines you can follow when making any calls. For all bucks, you can usually use any kind of grunts that are usually used. For any deer though, you should be using low or social grunts and young bucks you should be using distress calls.  


One of the most effective ways to hunt for a whitetail is the use of scents to attract the deer. This is effective due to the excellent sense of smell of the deer. This however goes both ways. With a highly sensitive sense of smell, the deer manage to easily smell an approaching hunter. This immediately drives it away that makes the hunter lose his chance of bagging his buck. On the other hand, this good smell may be used to the advantage of the hunter. Knowing that they could easily smell the scents around them, the deer hunter will then be able have the deer smell the scents it wants in order for it to come closer to the hunter’s stand.

With regards to these scents, both artificial and genuine scents coming from chemicals and actual deer scents are available for purchase by the hunter. Many companies are now producing these scents particularly for this purpose. These scents will then be placed on the body of the hunter to eliminate his own smell that could alert the deer. Even the clothes you choose to wear should be washed with a perfume-free and dye-free detergent to allow the elimination of the odors. Cover scents may also be used on your clothes to mask your own odor from the deer.

One of the most, if not the most effective scents in bagging that prized buck is the urine of the doe in heat. This is highly effective during the rutting season where the deer are in sexual heat. You can purchase it at most any sporting goods store. Hang the drag of urine on a branch of a tree as you enter the woods and proceed to your chosen site. Make sure it is hung on a spot that is in clear view. Once the deer approaches it, the drag will lure the deer into your view while it searches for the scent.

It is a wise move to dab the urine from an estrus doe to a tree trunk that is near you and within your shooting range.   Estrus does can only be found during the rutting season where they are in an ovulation stage and highly impregnable. It is during this time that bucks are in search for them and the urine will drive them straight to you. What is good about finding a buck that was lured by the doe urine you dabbed on the tree is that it will surely be in a state of confusion and catching or shooting is a much easier task than during other hunting seasons.

Deer Decoys:

Using decoys is also another effective way to increase your hunting success. Placing them close to the edge of a field or opening may just be the extra incentive for the monster buck you’ve been hoping for to come in. Make sure you are properly concealed.  Also avoid getting a human or non habitat smell to It may be a good idea to bring them in when you are done hunting for the day to avoid having your decoy attacked by a rutting buck!

In the end I hope you enjoyed some of these tips and that you can put them to use. Good luck on your next hunting trip and go out and bag the big buck you’ve been dreaming about.

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