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Post Rut Patterns

As the rut is winding down in most parts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, bucks begin to transition into post rut patterns. Certainly in some areas, the rut may still be going on, but it wont be as strong as it was a week to two weeks ago. Nevertheless, hunters seeking trophy bucks can still put their tag on a big buck at this time of year.

Many hunters prefer the post rut to the pre-rut or even the peak of the rut. Bucks will still be looking for receptive does in hopes of mating one last time before the frenzy is over. This being said there are some techniques to focus on to anchor your buck during this time of year.

Getting back to some of the basics of deer hunting, focusing on food is a great place to start. As the temperature drops, deer need more and more food to stay warm during the colder days. As the does move to food sources, bucks will follow suit. Setting up on late season food sources will give you the opportunity to get a good buck.

The second this to focus on, is what I like to term “doe hang-out’s” these are areas that for some reason does like to congregate. Bucks know this and will patrol these areas in hopes of finding that last receptive doe. For example; on our property, we have a stand that we call the ‘doe hotel’ because during the post rut, does congregate in this area more than at any time of year. When we hunt during the pre-rut and peak rut, we seldom see bucks in this area. But when the post rut comes, we see numerous bucks patrolling the area searching for does.

Next would be to be aggressive. As more bucks are looking for fewer does to breed, the competition for this privilege gets intense. This is when rattling and vocalizations seem to have the greatest response from bucks. Rattle loud and often during this time of the year. Following this with vocalizations will increase your chances for success. One method I like to use is rattling as soon as I have good shooting light, and rattling every ten minutes followed by a series of grunts and an occasional snort wheeze to get their attention. While it doesn’t work every time, there have been enough times it did work that I will not hunt during this time of year without rattling and grunting.

If you have never had the thrill of a mature buck coming into rattling, you haven’t experienced one of the thrills of whitetail deer hunting. Bucks respond in many different manners. From coming in on a dead run, to sneaking in slowly. Either way is fine as long as your crosshairs can find their mark.

The last method to try during post rut, is getting close to their bedding areas. Bucks that have spent a lot of energy chasing does for weeks are spent, and they need rest and food. Often they will bed close to food sources, while at others they will seek the thickest areas of your property to hide and recover. Stealthy hunters who can get close to the bedding areas quietly can often get the big bucks when they are rising and stretching their legs long before they move to the food. For many this is where they find the true trophies. Big bucks feel safe in their bedroom, getting close will get you inside their bubble and allow you to see bucks whose guard is down. One word of caution here, if you alert the buck to your presence, you can bet he will blow out of there and not return for a while, is ever during the season.

Post rut can be the most productive time of year, getting out there and hunting, and hunting hard, being aggressive and finding does and food will give you the best chance to see and harvest big bucks.