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Where to Find Whitetail Bucks during rut
Does are in charge
Most hunters believe that the big bucks are in charge of your deer herd but actually bucks are followers. Does will stay in small herds with the older matriarch doe leading them to water, food, shelter, etc; These matriarchs are very smart an alert to their surroundings, bucks follow the does lead to the freshest food sources, safest bedding areas and nearest water. Your bucks want to stay close, especially during breeding season.
Finding where your does are bedding and feeding will let you know where to set up stands for bucks. The bucks will try looking for hot does along these areas, you should start by finding heavily traveled trails between these areas. If there are cross trails this increases your odds of spotting bucks that are in search of hot does.
Does are easily located by using a feeder and trail camera
Do bucks really leave their core area during rut
Another common myth most hunters believe is bucks leave their core area during rut and don't return. A bucks core area is a safe zone within his territory and most bucks will have a number of these small core safe places in a larger territory. Bucks core area will include food,water,hidden shelter and does. A buck will follow a hot doe for long distances but will return quickly to the safety of it's core soon after breeding the doe. Bucks are much like any other animal and will return to what he knows.
Trophy bucks become creatures of habits unless disturbed by predators or humans. If you can find the route a buck is using to slip into his bedding area at dawn, you may be able to catch he coming in from cruising for does. You'll need to get there early and probably spend many hours waiting for a trophy to get caught up in chasing and come home late enough for you to get a chance.
Many hunters will take the time to do their scouting, in the off season. Go out looking for antler sheds, old rubs and scrapes. Even if the buck that made the deer sign may be gone, doesn't mean you should quit hunting that area. Bucks use the same trails for generations, young deer are taught by older deer. They look for food in the same areas, drink water from the same holes, even use the same thickets as safe zones unless pressured, they remain creatures of habit. Look for signs such as large deer droppings, worn trails, or other signs that deer are using an area.
Another great thing about early scouting is it allows you to find different routes to and from your stand locations. Traveling to your stands during hunting season, the wind may be a different direction every week, you need 3-4 trails cleared enough to slip in undetected. I've found that early scouting really pays off, come deer season.
Bucks are nocturnal?
Many hunters believe that bucks become nocturnal soon as hunting season begins. The truth is all deer spend 70% of the time bedded chewing their cud in a safe area out of sight. All deer are some what nocturnal but deer actually follow moon phases, the weeks of new moon or very little moon deer tend to feed early dawn and late dusk during full moon including the week before and week after deer will feed at night but will also move midday while most hunters are back at camp or off having lunch, try hunting midday.
Finding a shed means bucks use this area
Hunting rubs and scrapes during rut
Hunting rubs and scrapes pre-rut can pay off nicely but during rut by time you find these he's probably moved on. Bucks quickly move to another doe or different core looking for the next hot doe. Instead of hunting these follow your does, when does are feeding in fields hunt trails just off the fields but if your not seeing does in the fields move into hunt trails and cross trails. You will need to find the hidden trails with the thickest cover and most secluded holes if you want to locate that trophy buck.
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