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Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

How To Hunt Each Phase of the Rut
By T.R. Michels
Nov 8, 2005, 06:59

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T.R.ís Tips: Fall Deer Pattern Shifts and How To Hunt Them

Pre-Rut/Rubbing Phase
1. Deer shift from summer foods to available mast, fruit and agricultural crops and browse more. Locate food sources as areas to hunt.

Dispersal Phase/Home Range Shift
2. Buck bachelor groups begin to break up and bucks become more aggressive. Bucks may move to new core areas where they can bed by themselves. Find fresh rubs in secure areas to locate buck core areas. All deer may move from summer home ranges to fall home ranges. Find the areas where the does have moved to in the fall.

Pre-Primary Breeding/Scraping Phase
3. Bucks begin to travel rub routes, making scrapes two to three weeks before the primary breeding phase. Locate buck rub routes and groups of scrapes.

4. As the rut approaches bucks shift from their own travel routes to those used by the does. Locate both buck rub routes and doe trails for areas to hunt.

Shorter Daylight Hours, Colder Temperatures and Falling Leaves (Defoliation)
5. Deer move deeper into cover as leaves fall. Move hunting sites deeper into woods or to current travel routes.

6. With less daylight and fewer leaves deer shift their from movement times from daylight hours, to dusk, dawn and nighttime hours, and from covered daytime trails to more open night trails. Scout to find areas deer use during daylight.

Primary Breeding Phase
7. As does come into estrus bucks abandon rub routes to chase does. Spend all day on rub routes near buck and doe core areas or doe use areas with scrapes.

8. Bucks begin to use open trails at night. Locate daytime use areas or bedding sites to hunt.

9. Doe groups begin traveling together. Be aware that there may be many deer in the area.

Rest Phase
10. Bucks may return to their core areas and feed heavily. Hunt buck core areas and travel routes leading to and from food sources.

Post Primary Breeding Phase
11. Bucks begin to travel together. More than one buck may appear, wait for the big one.

12. Bucks begin to travel with the does. Locate doe feeding areas to locate bucks.

Pre-Late Breeding and Late Breeding Phases
13. Bucks begin chasing does before and during the late breeding phase. Hunt near buck bedrooms, rub routes, and doe use areas.

Post Rut
14. Bucks may again return to their core areas. They may also migrate to winter ranges. Locate buck core areas/winter ranges to hunt.

This article is an excerpt from the Deer Addict's Manual. Volume 3, Fall Deer Movement Influences ($9.95 + $5.00 S&H), by T.R. Michels.  

If you are interested in more whitetail hunting tips, or more whiteatail biology and behavior, click on Trinity Mountain Outdoor News and T.R.'s Hunting Tips at If you have questions about whitetails log on to the T.R.'s Tips message board. To find out when the rut starts, peaks and ends in your area click on Whitetail Rut Dates Chart.
T.R. Michels is a nationally recognized game researcher/wildlife behaviorist, outdoor writer and speaker. He is the author of the Whitetail, Elk, Duck & Goose, and Turkey Addict's Manuals. His latest products are Hunting the Whitetail Rut Phases, the Complete Whitetail Addict's Manual, the 2005 Revised Edition of the Elk Addict's Manual; and the 2005 Revised Edition of the Duck & Goose Addict's Manual.
For a catalog of books and other hunting products contact: T.R. Michels, Trinity Mountain Outdoors, E-mail: , Web Site:

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