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Hunting the Pre-Rut


What hasn’t been said about hunting the whitetail rut? I believe every possible tid bit of information regarding the rut has been said, written and articulated by more educated and better scribes than I ever hoped for. That being said, for the next three weeks we will look at the different stages of the rut. First we will look at the Pre-rut, then the rut and finally the post rut.

For all intense purposes the pre-rut in the Carolina’s and the southeast will begin anywhere from the end of September through the end of October. Most occurring the first two weeks of October. This phase of the rut is for many the highlight of the season. Bucks are ready for some action and the does are not. This is when the chasing begins, when hunters see bucks chasing does all across their properties hoping for some action. Normally, the young bucks will start chasing long before the more mature bucks will begin. The pre-rut is also a time of sparring, and some fighting among bucks trying to establish territory or dominance of a particular area.

Hunters wanting to score during the pre-rut should employ a few basic tactics to capitalize on mature bucks. Here are three tactics that can put your sights on a mature buck during the pre-rut.

First, hunt the does. Find where the does like to congregate, bed or transition zones and set up in these areas. The bucks know where the girls are and will be close by looking for receptive does. If you are where the girls are, you will see bucks.

Second, be prepared to stay long on stand. As the bucks are looking for receptive does, they will look all day. Sitting for as long as you can will up the odds of seeing that buck you are after.

Last, get vocal. More during the pre-rut than at any time of the year will vocalization work at calling in bucks. Grunting, ratting, and even doe bleats will all get the curiosity of bucks and will often bring them in to investigate.

An example of how all three of these worked was last season for me, while hunting a thick bedding area does were known to hang out during the day. As the morning lingered with little action, I decided to get something started, so grabbing by grunt tube I began a series of grunts, low and short, long and loud. Within a few minutes a nice wide eight point showed and the hunt was over.

Hunting the pre-rut is often the most action you will see throughout the whole season. As bucks are chasing the does, the action is often fast and furious. Getting a mature buck in your sights can and often does happen during this time of year. It is by far my most productive time of year and the most thrilling in many ways. Many hunters agree that the pre-rut is the best time of season. By implementing these techniques, you will increase your odds of killing that buck of your dreams.