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Hunting the Post Rut


As the peak of the rut winds down, bucks have been chasing and breeding does for up to six weeks. They are tired and run down, but they are still looking for one last date before all of the does are bred. As mentioned last time, according to SCDNR data, the overwhelming majority of does are bred on or near October 30 of each year, so the dates after this would be classified as post rut. The doe will remain in peak estrus for about 48 hours. If she is not bred during this time, she will not come into estrus again for about twenty eight days. Then she will again come into estrus and be receptive for breeding.

The post rut is the time between the first phase of breeding and the second also known as the second rut which we will discuss next time. The post rut can be very difficult hunting. The bucks are recovering from active chasing, breeding and fighting and are pretty reclusive. Now is a good time to hunt active food sources. Bucks will be eating as much as possible since they ate very little during the active rut. They have to regain some of their strength to get ready for winter. Food is a primary source of concern for bucks at this time of the year,

In most places the mast crop is done, and browse is weak, the food plots you planted are now earning their keep. They are helping bucks recover and giving hunters an opportunity to find and kill big bucks during this time of the season. Some hunters refer to this as ‘lock down’ others use that phrase to mean when a buck is with a willing doe and won’t leave her. Regardless of the title you put on it, the post rut can be difficult, but for me, it is my favorite time to hunt.

You know the bucks are there, they have settled in, the leaves are gone for the most part and it is colder. This spells great opportunities for killing big deer. Again, as Kip Adams of the Quality Deer Management Association says, “I want to hunt where the bucks are going to be, and in the post rut, that is where the food is.” Finding or establishing good reliable food sources for post rut hunting can be everything for hunters. Those who do not have a good reliable food source for this time of year will have a difficult time finding and killing bucks. Many hunters complain that the bucks disappear during this time of year, or go nocturnal. When in actuality, they are looking for food. If neighboring farms or properties have better food sources, then the bucks will be there. Find, establish and maintain a reliable post rut food source and you will decorate your wall with a trophy.