2017’s Top 5 Best Days of the Whitetail Rut

On the minds of hunters all year long, the rut is a magical time to be in the woods. And although every day spent afield is a good one, mark these dates on the calendar as some of the best for 2017.

October 31

Why You’ll Kill a Buck

Halloween is one of the favorite dates for bowhunters, marking the beginning of a two week period where bucks are as reckless as they’ll ever be. Being the very end of October, bucks will be seeking and chasing, which some hunters consider to be the best phase of the rut. At this point, bucks will still be on a pattern, but moving more in daylight. If you’re able to key in on the specific trails deer have been using, this is the time to catch them right after sunrise or before sunset.

The Ideal Scenario

This is one of the first days where it’s acceptable to hunt your best stands. If you’re hunting thick woods, bring rattling antlers along and hit them together for some blind calling. If you’re hunting a field edge, bring a one-antlered decoy with to draw in mature bucks who aren’t afraid of an easy fight.

November 4

Why You’ll Kill a Buck

You’ll feel the earth tremble a little on this day, as big bucks all around the country hit the dirt. Being the first Saturday in November, treestands and deer blinds are going to be full, which cranks up deer movement even more as hunter pressure keeps bucks on their feet. At this stage of the rut, you can throw weather conditions and moon phases out the window, as you can be confident the rut will have them moving.

The Ideal Scenario

This date is a prime candidate for pulling an all-day sit, where you focus on where deer are bedding in the morning and feeding in the evening. Walk out of the woods for lunch, and you might just miss the midday action that only comes once a year. If a buck does happen by your area, don’t be afraid to send a grunt its way as his heightened testosterone will have him looking for a fight.

November 9

Why You’ll Kill a Buck

Across much of the Midwest, peak breeding takes place on November 15, plus or minus a couple days. However, you don’t want to necessarily be hunting then, as peak breeding means bucks and does are going to be on lockdown and rarely move. It equates to a sharp drop in deer activity and can make for some of the worst hunting in November. Instead, hunt just a couple days before that takes place, and you’ll see the best deer movement of the year.

The Ideal Scenario

If you can locate does at this time, you’ll be able to locate bucks. With some females starting to come into estrous, bucks will be harassing every doe they come across. Play to their senses and drag some doe urine with you into the woods, giving bucks more incentive to walk your trail. You can forget about deer sign at this point, though, as most scrapes and rubs will be abandoned.

November 19

Why You’ll Kill a Buck

Like two weeks prior, hunting pressure will keep deer moving with this Saturday falling into many state’s gun season. However, the best movement of the year is now behind us, so it’s okay to lower standards and expectations. That doesn’t mean you should stay home, though. With some does being late to estrous, breeding could still be taking place, but that doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

The Ideal Scenario

If you have a gun tag, this is a great time to hop in the truck and drive around looking for bucks at midday. With some bucks and does still experiencing lockdown, you can find distracted deer bedded in the middle of cut corn fields and CRP patches. Bring with some binos and a plat book, so you can glass up antlers and get permission in unfamiliar territory.

December 7

Why You’ll Kill a Buck

The rut is over… sort of. Although most does get bred about three weeks prior, the ones that didn’t will be coming into estrous again, and yearling does will be coming into estrous for the first time. Although bucks won’t be cruising like they were in November, this date is a great time to find a mature deer with its guard down.

The Ideal Scenario

Exhausted from the rut, bucks will be focusing on filling their bellies. Hunt around food sources where both sexes will be showing up at around dark. This is also a great time of year to pull off a deer drive if you’re gun hunting. Because deer will be found in obvious bedding locations at midday, like sloughs and shelterbelts, a good old fashion deer can be a last resort for killing a late season buck.

Check out the list of the top 7 states to hunt whitetails, click here.

For tips on how to make your bolt action the perfect whitetail rifle, click here.

For a recipe for Venison Philly Cheesesteak, click here.

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