Hunting The Rut: Whitetail Strategies (Episode 258 Transcript)

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GRANT: It’s an awesome time of year to be in the stand because you never know what you’ll see.

GRANT: Adam and I were in a tree stand Saturday morning enjoying the beautiful fall colors.

GRANT: Deer activity had been slow, so we were really excited when we caught movement.

GRANT: A bobcat was stalking his way through the timber and he had no idea we were in his world.

GRANT: His path literally took him directly below our tree stand, and gave Adam and I an awesome opportunity to observe this cat in his natural habitat.

GRANT: Bobcats are such cool critters and they’re amazing hunters. You may remember the episode, last week, where we showed you a bobcat swimming across a small pond trying to get up on a buck that Seth was filming.

SETH: (Whispering) (Inaudible) What’s that in the pond?

GRANT: Fortunately, for the buck he blew the cover of that bobcat and was able to escape with his life.

GRANT: Bobcats are super skilled predators, and extremely tuned in to their surroundings. It’s tough to see a bobcat in the wild, and getting footage of bobcats two weeks in a row, well, that’s quite a privilege.

GRANT: It’s the time of year when deer behavior changes, primarily due to the rut.

GRANT: When most hunters use the term “rut”, they’re talking about the peak of rut. That week, or two, when the most does in an area are receptive and bucks are chasing everywhere.

GRANT: Throughout most of the whitetails’ range, the peak of the rut occurs the first week or two, of November. That’s when about 50 percent, or more, of the does in an area will be bred.

GRANT: Recently, Brad, from Wisconsin, shared some incredible Reconyx pictures that really define what all of us hunters want to see during the peak of the rut. This mature buck tended a doe in the edge of a wide, open field for a long time. Even better, you can clearly see the hunters blind, not too far behind this buck and doe.

GRANT: During the peak of the rut, does are the primary attraction – not food, cover, or water. We often have to adjust our hunting strategies and locations appropriately.

GRANT: A good strategy for hunting the rut would seem as simple as finding an area where you commonly see does. But one thing that throws a monkey wrench in that strategy is that when a doe is receptive, she tends to behave totally different. So you go to the food plot where you’ve been seeing five does every afternoon, and all the sudden, you’re only seeing four, it’s probably because that one doe that’s receptive is in a different part of her home range, or even outside of her normal home range. Scientists have been putting GPS collars on deer for over a decade, now. One finding that really intrigues me, as a hunter, is that GPS collars clearly show that both, bucks and does, tend to take trips out of the core area, and/or, home range during the rut.

GRANT: Remember, receptive does are the biggest attraction, during that time of year, and bucks are following that. And that throws the ability to predict where bucks are gonna be out the window.

GRANT: To take advantage of these big changes in behavior, I like to hunt two areas. I like to hunt dense bedding areas that I can see into or I like to hunt well known travel corridors that lead from one bedding area, or cover area, to another.

GRANT: Several times I’ve observed does going in thick cover with a group of bucks chasing her. Clearly, she’s a receptive doe. It seems like she goes in thick cover – allows the mature buck to keep the other bucks at bay – so she’s not constantly pestered, as she would be running across open areas.

GRANT: Two years ago, on the opening day of rifle season here in Missouri, we were after a buck we called the Trashman. Once again, we’re hunting a thick bedding area and saw him, several times, chasing a doe in that bedding area. The area was so thick we just couldn’t get off a shot.

GRANT: (Whispering) I’m on him.

GRANT: (Whispering) I’ve lost him.

GRANT: And again, last year, Adam and I were in Kentucky, on the opening day of their gun season, set up over a small, young pine stand. Thinking that a doe would come in there seeking cover and that’s exactly what happened as we watched several bucks, including a nice three year old, try to pin a doe down in that cover. During the rut, it’s a given that a mature buck is gonna be with a receptive doe and receptive does likely want to be in thick cover. So why waste your time somewhere else? Get to a vantage point where you can see into, or close to, thick cover, and let that doe bring the bucks to you.

GRANT: During the pre and post rut, there’ll still be a few does be receptive but not all over the place. And that’s a time period when bucks will cruise food plots, or other areas, trying to pick up a doe.

GRANT: (Whispering) Stop, buddy. Stop.

GRANT: There’s no mystery to when the peak of the rut occurs, because when does are harvested in a late season, and the fetuses inside them are measured, we can accurately date back to when that doe was bred. We’ll use a ruler, developed by Joe Hamilton, the founder of the Quality Deer Management Association, and placed a fetus on that ruler – look at the date, and simply, backdate to the point of conception. It may be fun to sit around the hunting camp and argue if moon phase determines when deer breed, but if you’re scheduling your vacation on that, you better hope the weather is good for that week, because I can assure you, without a shadow of a doubt, phases of the moon do not determine when deer breed. If you’d like to learn more about the research behind this, simply go to They’ve recently published a great article about the research done on the peak of the rut. Researchers have looked at, literally, thousands of fetuses, from different states, for several years in a row, and determined exactly when the rut occurred at those locations and it did not vary, even though the moon phase varied year for year at that location.

GRANT: I hope you use this information to enjoy better days of field, but more importantly, take time each day to be still and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching