Are You Hunting These Spots?
The rut is a crazy time of year for the deer hunter. You love it because of the madness it brings in the name of deer behavior. You hate it because it can be perplexing at times and much more difficult to kill a deer than you think it should ever be. Regardless of which side of that fence you find yourself sitting on this year, there is something you need to remember — the tail end of the primary rut and late rut behavior can be just as good as the main event. Here are five of my favorite stand locations for those areas.
1. Primary and Secondary Food Sources
If I've said it once, I've said it a bunch — food is king. Find the food. Find the does. Find the bucks. That said, hunting directly over food can be tough. You need the right conditions to do so. But if you get those stiff North winds that bring cold temperatures with them (which get deer up on their feet in the winter), you may just find yourself in the thick of some hot late-rut action. On the flip side, if it's warm and deer aren't moving, best slink back into the cover a bit to find that late-season success.
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2. Staging Areas
It can be hard to define what a staging area actually is. In reality, it can be anywhere. But the short of it is it's any place (between bedding areas and food sources) that deer hold up in before moving out into open food sources to feed at night. For me, hunting primarily in Kentucky and Ohio, such locations often include: remaining acorn flats, grassy pockets of CRP, small in-woods food plots, cover along inside edges of field corners, etc. These tweener spots can be hot — especially later in the season after deer are warier due to hunting pressure.
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3. Doe Bedding Areas with Thermal/Solar Cover
The bulk of the rutting activity might be over. There are still does to be bred, though. Younger does, and more specifically doe fawns, might still breed. And the bucks are going to be on their feet when duty calls. The best place to find them? Near doe bedding areas with quality cover necessary for the brutal cold often found during the late season.
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4. Rut Sign Close to Buck Bedding Areas
I'm not a huge proponent of hunting directly over rut sign. But now that most does have been bred, some bucks will begin slinking back into their deep-woods bedding area lairs in search of security and sanctuary. Look for fresh rubs and scrapes to point you in the right direction.
5. Unpressured Pockets of Habitat
A lot of hunters have been afield by this point. Deer know it. They've felt the hunting pressure. That's why unpressured pockets of quality habitat are prime locations to kill a late-rut buck. Deer have gradually gravitated to these areas all season long. And if you can find one, you should, too.
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