It's a new season, but these five things always impact a rut hunter's luck
The rut is a fickle creature. It's difficult to know exactly what the deer are doing from one day to the next unless you're out there observing the behavior every day (though you can keep up with a lot on Realtree's Rut Report, updated by region every week).
Even if you are hunting every day, knowing what the area deer are doing can still be tough. By this point in November, some bucks are already locked down with does. In other areas, the best rut action is yet to come. Regardless of where the phase of the rut stands where you are, though, there are some perennial factors that affect your hunting success.
Having the right weather can influence how much rutting activity you see — or don't see — on any given hunt. A cold front with a little rain to break a stale weather pattern, followed by a clear, crisp morning can seem to bring deer out of the woodwork. On the flip side, warm weather can slow the action to a crawl. Contrary to popular belief, the weather doesn't determine when deer breed. But it does influence how much of that breeding activity you see out in the open during daylight. Does often hug tight to thick cover when in estrus anyway, and they move even less when it's warmer than average. Bucks don't seem to cruise in the open as often, or for as long, during those unseasonably warm days, either.
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2. Available Bedding Cover
Rut tactics are almost always terrain-based. So if you aren't hunting around the type of quality bedding cover deer need this time of year, action will likely be minimal. Find quality doe bedding areas currently being used and you should be right in the thick of it.
3. Available Food Sources
Food is king, even during the rut. Find the food. Find the does. Find the bucks. That's the order of operations when trying to kill a buck during the breeding season. It sounds simple. And it very well can be. But once you have this bit of information ingrained into your head, it's time to dig a little deeper.
4. Hunting Pressure
Deer often react negatively to hunting pressure. Does it completely drive them out of the area? Not usually, but it can. The presence of heavy hunting pressure can and will cause a major decline in daylight activity. And while deer may not uproot and move to the next property, it can cause them to avoid certain trails and locations on a given property. That's why it's important to monitor your entry routes, exit routes, wind directions and overall invasiveness throughout the season.
5. Time to Hunt
Bucks make more mistakes than usual during the rut, but it's rarely the free-for-all that we imagine it to be all year. Anyone can get lucky but to be a consistently successful rut hunter, time in the stand is the most important factor of all. Save your vacation days, and don't skip mornings, even when it's been slow and even when you're exhausted. The buck you're hunting is bound to make a mistake. You have to be there when he does.
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