A Second Rut Means a Second Chance
Mention “the rut” and the majority of whitetail hunters think early fall days marked by hormone gorged bucks with their nose to the ground running down any doe insight. They also think this is do or die time when it comes to filling tags. But late season hunters know there is a second rut and they also know this means another chance to get those tags out of their pockets and onto a big buck.
In truth there is no “second rut”. There is only one rut, or breeding season, but there are two peaks in breeding activity.
These peaks occur in early fall, commonly referred to as “the rut”, and another in mid-December – the “second rut”. During the first peak the majority of does enter estrous and bucks everywhere forget about everything else except finding love. During the second rut those doe who failed to successfully breed earlier enter estrous again and are joined by young fawns who were too small during the previous cycle. Although many bucks will be too worn out to participate in this second go around mature more experienced bucks will have paced themselves and be prowling the woods again.
But to tag out on one of these older bruisers you need to adjust your tactics.
1. Food becomes a focus – food plots are always hot spots for targeting any wild game, but during the main rut many bucks will ignore hunger to pursue eligible does. But by the time December rolls around food once again becomes a primary focus – winter is coming, food has become more scarce and bucks need to eat in order to bulk up for leaner times to come. Use this to your advantage by selecting stand sites near the remaining food sources.
2. Stay back, hunt the edges – any remaining deer will have been exposed to months of heavy pressure and are now weary of any exposure, mature bucks who were previously cautious are now almost ghost like. Instead of hunting wide open fields or exposed trails choose sites overlooking funnels or secondary trails set back inside the wood line.
3. To tag a buck hunt the does – even the weariest of big buck is still a boy and nothing draws boys out of the shadows like an eligible female looking for a date. Although the past couple of months of heavy pressure has pushed them deeper into the woods and cover the chance to mate with one of the few remaining does will draw even the most cautious king of the woods into the open for a few minutes. This means that by hunting the does, even of you never intend taking one, will put you in a better position to encounter and ambush the buck that is following them.
So now that you understand the “second rut” and how it impacts deer activity it is time to put this knowledge to use by tagging your own trophy!
Good luck good hunting!