Preparing for the Whitetail Rut

Preparing for the Whitetail Rut

I know, it’s September, so why are we discussing the November whitetail rut? Good question. It really boils down to getting things done while you have time to get things done. And while most articles will focus on what to do during the rut, I’m going to discuss what you can do now in order to be ready for every whitetail hunters favorite time of year.

Secure Your Vacation Days

Years ago I worked for a company that employed more deer hunters than I could list on both hands. The only problem with that was I was the low man on the ladder. Needless to say when it came my turn to secure vacation time the best days to be in a stand were already gone. In essence, I was forced to hunt the earliest stages of the whitetail rut or the last stages after the initial breeding had begun.

This created major headaches for me because I was used to hunting during the prime days of the rut. Instead, I had to change my tactics in order to hunt the sign phase and the seeking phases of the whitetail rut. If you are the low man at work when it comes to seniority then you should be thinking right now how you are going to approach the rut. After all, you most likely won’t get to hunt the “best” days.

Big Buck Walking

If you do happen to have the luxury of choosing your days then now is a great time to secure them with your boss. If you are unsure when the best days occur there are a few ways to find out.

For starters you can always enlist the help of a local taxidermist. Why? Because they know (and see) when the biggest bucks of the year hit the dirt and can most likely give you a detailed account of their busiest time of the whitetail rut.

Also, if you know a successful hunter in the area he/she may be willing to share their thoughts on the best days to be afield during November. And lastly, simply call your state wildlife agency and they can tell you when the whitetail rut hits its peak for your area.

Knock Out The Honey-Do List

Several years ago I was chasing a really nice buck for my area and even though I had secured the vacation days to hunt him I left out one important detail - I hadn’t completed my “honey-do” list. Still, with a full week of whitetail rut hunting staring me in the face I figured what harm could come out of using one morning to get caught up on stuff I had promised my wife I would do.

The morning I finally climbed into my stand, as I was review the images from the SD card I had just pulled, I got my answer. There, standing in all his glory, was the very buck I had been chasing all year. The trail camera had captured him walking by my stand at 15 yards. I was heartbroken.

Today, I make sure all of the things I promised I would do are done long before November. Sometimes, depending on the length of the list, I start the process in September. Doing so keeps me in the good graces of my wife and also keeps my taxidermist busy.

Locate The Ladies

If you are lucky enough to have a few different hunting areas then now is a great time to start looking for the one thing that every buck on earth will be looking for come November... does.

Start by looking for preferred bedding and feeding locations. Then, find the favored travel routes in between the two. The last step is choosing just the right tree along that route. And even though that sounds like elementary advice, you would be surprised at the number of hunters who simply approach the rut on a whim with no detailed plan.

Fill the freezer with a doe

Some hunters also make the mistake of finding a good concentration of does but then hunt the area right up through the rut naively expecting not to burn out the stand sight. That simply isn’t going to happen. To remedy this situation hunters should have specific stand sites set aside for filling the freezer and killing a buck during the whitetail rut.  

Does, especially older, breeding class ones, are so in tune with their surroundings that repeated trips to your stand site will ultimately lead to educating them. Once that happens it is game over.

So, when you do find a good group of does do your best to leave them alone until the bucks are actively seeking them. When that happens, the does will put your target buck in front of you.

Utilize Trail Cameras

Trail cameras are a great way to keep tabs on deer movement and can greatly aid in the decision to stay put or move on. However, unless you have a wireless model that sends images you’ve got to check you cameras frequently or you’ll miss the action.

Utilize trail cameras and their data

Doe and buck movement can be sporadic at best during the rut so it pays to be mobile and move at a moment’s notice. And don’t worry about disturbing a buck during this time either. Most are on a mission to find love and will be here today and gone tomorrow.

You can start prepping now by monitoring deer movement via DeerLab that breaks down deer movement and tells you the best times to be in your stand. This can be a huge tool to utilize in order to monitor doe movement. A lot of hunters think that it is only useful for tracking bucks. That’s a mistake. Remember, once the whitetail rut starts does will be the key.

Prepare For The Elements

The one thing about hunting during the whitetail rut is that the moment of truth can happen at any moment. Therefore, in order to increase your odds of filling your tag it is imperative that you remain in the stand as long as you can. That means all day if you can handle it.

hunting clothes for the rut

In order to do so you have got to set yourself up for success by choosing the right equipment. Start with comfort. Choose your treestand and blind carefully. After all, you’re going to be spending a good deal of time in them.

In addition, reliable, warm clothing is a must when hunting the long cold days of November. Start now by investigating which items you will need in order to stay comfortable and warm for extended hours.


While the whitetail rut may be a few months away that doesn’t mean it is too early to start thinking about it and most importantly preparing for it. Start now and by the time November rolls around you will be more than ready to fill your tag on a big, swollen-neck, rut-crazed buck.

Steve Flores
Steve Flores
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