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How to hunt bucks during the November rut

It's early November, that time of the year in the world of the white-tailed deer when love is in the air. Amorous bucks are seeking does, and reproduction is on their minds.

Although the urge to breed can cause whitetail bucks to act foolishly, don’t count it, especially when the hunting season has been open for a few days. They are likely to stick to heavy cover during daylight.
Although the urge to breed can cause whitetail bucks to act foolishly, don’t count it, especially when the hunting season has been open for a few days. They are likely to stick to heavy cover during daylight.

It's early November, that time of the year in the world of the white-tailed deer when love is in the air. Amorous bucks are seeking does, and reproduction is on their minds.

Hunting deer during the rut requires different tactics than at other times during the season. For example, during October, bow hunters hunt primarily in the evening near deer food sources, or along deer trails leading from bedding areas to food sources, hoping to catch a buck going to feed. December muzzleloader hunters and archers use deer hunting techniques similar to those employed during October.

But now, when bucks are actively seeking or tending does, hunters might want to switch gears.

It may seem obvious but during the rut, the best site to find a buck is where does are hanging out. Thus, a great location to waylay a rutting buck is to hunt downwind of a known doe bedding area. Or, better yet, downwind of a deer trail between two or more doe bedding areas.

Deer are scent oriented animals, and bucks will travel downwind of spots they expect to find does, using their ultra keen noses to check the wind currents for does in estrus, or breeding condition.

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Now, during the rut, morning hunting is often the best time to spot a buck as he makes his rounds. However, a lovesick buck looking for a mate can appear at anytime.

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Additional tips

  • Avoid scaring any does you see. A rutting buck might be hot on their trails.
  • On the other had, don't be too concerned if you frighten deer while hunting now during the rut. Deer are accustomed to seeing other deer running as bucks pursue does, and they soon settle down.
  • Don't give up. A hunting spot that was deer-less one day, can be a hotspot the next. If a local doe comes into estrus a buck or bucks will find her.
  • For those hunters who are extremely patient, (not me) it's a good idea to stay on stand all day. During the rut bucks will oftentimes be on the move all day.

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Another good location to bag a buck is downwind of any pinch point, or bottleneck, in your hunting area. Bottlenecks concentrate bucks as they travel in search of does. Examples of these are a saddle between two ridge tops, a strip of high ground surrounded by swamp, land between two bodies of water, or a shelterbelt or woodland connecting two fields.

If you are lucky enough to have access to a remote deer feeding location-such as a picked soybean field or cornfield-where deer have been eating undisturbed for the past few weeks, those locales can be hotspots. Bucks don't feed much during the rut, but if does are in the vicinity bucks will be, too. However, as the season wanes, don't expect bucks that have been hunted to step out into the open during daylight.

A buck tending a doe in estrus can show up almost anywhere. I've seen bucks with a hot doe in wide open fields during midday. So, be ready to shoot at all times, even when walking to and from your deer stand in areas you wouldn't normally expect to see deer.

Have fun hunting and be safe.

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BILL MARCHEL is a wildlife and outdoors photographer and writer whose work appears in many regional and national publications as well as the Brainerd Dispatch. He may be reached at bill@billmarchel.com . You also can visit his website at BillMARCHEL.com.

A doe is sandwiched between two bucks. Now, during the whitetail rut, a doe in estrus can attract several bucks as they vie for the right to breed.
A doe is sandwiched between two bucks. Now, during the whitetail rut, a doe in estrus can attract several bucks as they vie for the right to breed.

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