The 5 Best Pre-Rut Deer Hunting Tips For Bagging A Trophy Buck

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Whitetail Deer Buck During Rut

If you’re a serious deer hunter and your even more serious about bagging a trophy buck this deer hunting season, then you’ll want to learn how-to hunt pre-rut whitetail deer.

Hunting pre-rut trophy deer is most likely the easiest way to tag that trophy buck you’ve had your eye on. Why is that you ask?

During pre-rut the mature bucks are still sticking to their normal patterns of feeding, sleeping, checking active scrapes, marking their territory with rubs and of course chasing off other younger bucks looking to score. So, this time during the early mating season, those big mature trophy bucks are generally more concerned with finding a hot doe to mate with than staying out of harm’s way. Thus making hunting pre-rut trophy whitetail deer a very important process. Once the full rut hits its peak you’ll in all likelihood not even have a chance to get close to the trophy buck of your dreams.

1Get Deer Hunting Educated

Using the information you’ve gathered your deer hunting camera footage, from pre-season and early hunting season scouting trips, you’ll want to choose your treestand or hunting blind locations. Your best options for taking a big buck down this hunting season will along the buck’s main travel routes from bedding areas to feeding areas.

Using rubber hunting boots and scent-free camo clothing walk the nearby edges of river and creek bottoms, wooded areas that present natural funnels, and fence lines to find evidence of rubs and scrapes that reveal the big buck’s travel route(s) to its feeding area. Once you’ve found good deer sign that signifies the buck is in-fact traveling a certain route(s). You can then begin the process of searching out your best deer hunting treestand locations.

2Only Hunt The Best Treestand Locations

Your best options for tree stand locations will be along the buck’s travel route from his bedding area to feeding areas roughly about 100 – 150 yards from the big bucks bedding area. You’ll want to be certain to evaluate the area and select a treestand location where, as the buck is approaching he’ll be facing nose into or quartering the wind.

This will help to ensure that the big buck doesn’t catch wind of your scent. If you need to clear shooting lanes – do so minimally. Once you have your treestand location selected, shooting lanes trimmed – leave. That’s right! Leave without hanging your deer stand. If even you’re using a climbing tree stand just leave the deer woods the way you found it. The reason for this is: the big bucks know their home ranges very well and they’ll more than likely be able to figure out something was going on out there. So, the least amount of evidence you leave the better off you are. Just leave – and come back when the area has settled back down and the hunting conditions are perfect for tagging a deer.

3Stay Out In the Woods Longer

When everything comes together and hunting conditions are perfect – the wind, the day and your mood for hunting. Sneak back into your chosen treestand location in the early afternoon when the deer woods are still calm and the deer are bedded down, quickly and quietly get your deer decoy setup (if using one) and hang your treestand. You’ll want to plan on being up in your treestand and all settled in for an evening deer hunt no later than mid-afternoon about 4 – 5 hours before you expect the deer to start moving or 4 hours before dark. The choice is really yours. You’ll need to take into consideration the area your hunting. So being mindful of your entrance points to your treestand location is critical – make sure to give yourself plenty of time to enter and get settled into your treestand before those big bucks start to move.

If you can manage to sit and hunt longer, I strongly suggest that you get out earlier in the morning and hunt deer later into the afternoon or evening hours, and simply hunt as often as you can during these prime hunting times for the best opportunities for bagging a trophy buck.

A good word of advice would be sure to pack yourself a portable cooler with some water, some quick (not junk food.) But, good sustainable energy food such as beef jerky, protein bars, meat sandwiches, etc. The idea of packing yourself a lunch is so you don’t get hungry or dehydrated while you’re out there – plus, you’ll be able to stay longer in the deer woods. Sitting in the deer stand for long periods of time can drain you and making sure that you remain as comfortable as you can is important so you’re not distracted from deer hunting. Make sure that you have whatever you need to keep yourself out in the woods hunting during these prime times. Doing so will give you the best possible chances of tagging your trophy deer this hunting season.

4Get Slightly Aggressive

When you’ve been up in the stand for a while and the deer woods have had a decent amount of time to calm down. You can start to consider doing a little bit of deer calling. I would strongly suggest holding off on doing any deer calling until about an hour or so before you loss shooting light. Start off using a buck grunt call – blowing on it softly doing a couple of reps. Then after about a 15-minute wait, you can hit your rattling antlers for about 15 to 30 seconds, not to rough. Just light enough to mimic some bucks sparring in the area. This method is often enough to drive a mature trophy buck to leave his bed early to investigate.

5Remember The Hunting Game Changes During The Rut

One thing to bear in mind is that, as soon as the rut peaks, there’s no such thing as a deer pattern. These doe thirsty bucks are not concerned with anything other than chasing does. So, your chances of seeing a trophy buck are lower because he’ll be wherever the does are. During the early onset of the rut, the bucks you have been patterning during the offseason will still be scouting their home territory for early heat does.

What some inexperienced deer hunters may not realize is that those bucks that have been showing up on their deer hunting camera will most likely change their travel patterns and locations, as soon as the peak of the rut hits. So, hunting where you know the does are will be your best bet for tagging a trophy deer. Seeing trophy bucks during the peak rutting season is often times more likely due to the fact that the bucks are moving a lot during the daylight hours seeking out does that are ready for breeding. So, hunting bedding and feeding zones where you’ve spotted does or another deer sign is one of your best bets. Also, look for buck sign like ground scraping and buck rubs on trees and brush. Making sure to set up your hunting stand in areas of plentiful and fresh deer sign like scrapes and rubs will stake the odds in your favor.

Many times hot will freshen a ground scrape, urinating in the scrape leaving her doe in heat scent for the bucks letting them know she’s nearby and in the area ready to breed. The thing to remember is that during the rut the game of hunting deer completely changes. The bucks tend to move around a lot during rutting season, so keep your eyes open for fresh deer sign like – fresh and active scrapes and rubs, hunt where the does are and your chances of bagging that trophy buck you’ve dreamed of will become more of reality this deer hunting season.

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