Late Season Rut

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How many times have you heard a hunter state, “I only hunt the rut” Well is that the primary rut or is it the second Rut? Or is it the Third Rut?  Yes a third rut.  If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you have a long Deer Season you will find there really is a third rut.

Let us go past the first or primary rut and that is when every buck in the neighborhood and those from another galaxy travel and I do mean travel looking for hot does.  I have visited with Biologist and they have told me about bucks that were GPS collard, and those bucks will hook up with a hot doe and when that doe goes out of her 24 hour cycle they will hook up with another hot doe and so on, so on then they will actually wind up 10 to 15 miles from their home base!  Then when they can no longer find another hot doe they start drifting back to their home territory and that is when they really get into trouble.

I’m like every other hunter I love to hunt every day that I can and I’m very fortunate to be able to do so. However, my favorite time to be in the brush, woods, fields is the second rut or late season rut.

Evidence of a good buck working this scrap.

(First Rut)    A large number of the Midwestern states have their Firearm Season right in the middle of the Rut, and those young bucks are stupid and dead.  The older bucks start seeing Pedro, Ariel, and Sam dying and they hear all of the gun shots and they know the heat is on and they have their hidey holes and they go there and turn nocturnal.  If you are hunting during the main rut and you sit on Scrapes, most of the activity by now on hot scrapes is nocturnal. You hunt funnels and the older bucks are off pattern and hanging out with the does and you fail.  You hunt food plots but the moon if full and is killing you!  So there you sit and you hunt because you love to hunt and sometimes you get lucky and that monster buck of a life time comes trailing a hot doe and you get lucky and make the shot and you have a bragging size buck.  However, you go thru the primary rut and no deer, no deer meat in the freezer, no summer sausage, no beer sticks and you wind up going to the grocer store and buying beef beer sticks or beef summer sausage. Yuck!

Author points out the rubs in this desert tree.

(Second Rut)  Let’s say you’re going to hunt one of the Midwest states in December and that is usually when your second rut will occur that first or second week of December.  Here’s what happens, a large number of the 1 & ½ year old bucks are dead!  You are dealing with cold weather; most of the does are bred and must go to the food plots, corn fields, and eat more to stay healthy.  PLUS, those does that did not get bred during the primary rut are coming back in to estrus and you can bet its 28 days after the does first 24 hour cycle.  There are not as many hot does now and the older more mature bucks are now doing 90 per cent of the breeding.  These bucks are very vulnerable, they come to horn rattling, grunt calls and have a tendency to check the scrapes looking to pick up that hot doe.

The first thing I do when I go into the field during the second rut I will start looking for scrapes immediately and if they are not active I will then start spraying  “The Buck Bomb”  doe in estrus into any scrape line that I can find along the edge of a food plot, a sendero or old logging road.  If I can find old scrapes that are 30 plus days old, I will reactivate them.  I will also hang up tarsal glands of a buck or spray buck urine in the scrape.  I believe all and everything you can do will help you toward killing a big buck during the second rut.

SETTING UP FOR THE SHOT: I will try to find a good funnel that feeds into a scrape line I’m going to hunt and then I will sit up my tree stand that is down wind from the scrape line, or I will sit up a XXXL Ground blind so I can sit comfortably all day if there is no trees to hunt out of.  I prefer  to hunt out of ground blinds during this time of the year as the elements is kept off of me inside of a ground blind and I can hunt comfortably all day.  I never could figure out why we hunt early and late and not in the middle of the day?   If you have the time hunt all day! Especially out of a ground blind, if you have a comfortable chair, a cooler or thermos and soft food and a good book you can and will hunt all day and your success will go up immensely.  I guarantee you will not see as many bucks that you were seeing in September, October and November! But, the quality will be much better.  This is a great time to see and kill big bucks as these bucks are on the prowl and looking for hot does and there is less does so therefore they have to travel more to find the few does and your chances to kill a monster buck will go up.

And if you do everything right, you score.

HUNTING COMFORTABLY: If you’re going to hunt out of a Treestand, I would highly recommend that you purchase a  Heater Body Suit.  This item is worth every dollar you spend.  This is one of the best cold weather items you will ever own.  In 0 temps and a full blown snow storm you can sit in a tree stand and be comfortable and when the moment comes, you can pick up your bow off of the tree hook and make the shot without stress out from cold stiff muscles.  Or if you’re hunting in a ground blind, this item has its main draw back you can and will go to sleep in your chair if you’re not careful.

In cold weather make sure you layer your clothing as it will allow you to add or take off clothing during the day and still hunt comfortably but not get too hot and once you start to sweat your in big trouble.  YOU WILL FREEZE TO DEATH AND NOT EVEN KNOW IT.  I know a lot of you folks are thinking what the hell does a Texan know about cold weather hunting?  Well I did stay in a Holiday Inn, in Aberdeen S.D. in Feb of 1983 and the temp was a minus 20 degrees!  Then I hunted in Southwest S.D. on Hat Creek and we hunted in – 40 degrees right after a blizzard and I was dressed properly and was able to stay in a tree stand for 2 hours and took a shot at a Boone & Crockett whitetail Buck that I had rattled in during the second rut. That’s when I found out that 90 lb bows do not break over smoothly in that kind of tempts.

Finally: now I live in the Hill Country of Texas in Kerrville, Texas and the temps, get down into the 20’s and that is cold! And that is based on the relativity of temperatures, your use to.  I love the second rut here in Texas and that is in the Month of January and always I see some really monster bucks but they all have one problem and that is broken up horns.  However, that being said, I still love hunting the second rut!  Doesn’t waste time get out and hunt that second rut and who knows you could kill the buck of a life time.


BOW: be sure to choose a bow set at poundage that you can easily draw back while sitting on your butt without having to bring the bow up and over your heard

Looking for a hot bow? The new Mathews Z7Extreme may fit your bill.

ARROWS: if you’re shooting mechanicals make sure your bow set up is creating over 65 foot pounds of energy!  The way to find that out is shoot your arrow thru a chronograph and know the exact weight of your arrow and then use the following equation:  speed times speed times mass weight of your arrow equals then divided by 450.240 this will give you the foot pounds of energy your arrow is developing out of your bow.   Example:  my Mathews Z-7 is shooting a Carbon Express 350 which is a( 415 grain) arrow at  (300 feet) per second:   300 x 300 x 415 = 37, 350, 000 divided by 450.240 equals  82’955.756  which means I’m developing  almost 83 foot pounds of energy. That will shoot thru a bull elk with a Grim Reaper and 1 ¾ inch cutting blades!

For a great hunting arrow its hard to beat the MaximaHunter from Carbon Express
Quality Expandables like this new Mathews Grim Reaper head will flat put your trophy down.

BROADHEADS:  I do like the new Mathews edition whitetail broadheads by Grim Reaper; however that being said any quality expandable, puncture type head or especially a cut on contact broadhead will do the job for you if you put the arrow in the right spot.

CLOTHING: make sure whatever the type of clothing you choose that you go out in your back yard or to a outdoor range and shoot your bow and find the changes you go thru with all of that bulky clothing on.  Believe me, your point of aim will change 95 per cent of the time.  So shoot your bow with all of your cold weather clothing on and know what your bow and arrow are doing.  I highly recommend layering your clothing and then topping off your outer clothing using the GameHide insulated bibbed overalls and insulated jacket in lost camo.

BOOTS: this is a catch 22 choice, if you get an excellent insulated boot and socks your feet will sweat as you walk into your stand and then 2 hours later your feet will feel like two blocks of ice.  I highly recommend a pair of boots that have a felt liner and therefore you can pull the liners out as you walk to your stand and then when you get to where you want to hunt take the liners out and put them on your feet and you will be able to hunt much longer and enjoy your hunt.  Also, don’t forget the heat pads these are wonderful items and also don’t forget the  Heater Body Suit.

So get out there and go hunting during the second rut in December or January and you will enjoy the hunt much more and who know maybe you will rattle in the Monster of a life time.

Good Hunting:

Jim Miller

Author points out the rubs in this desert tree.