There is a lot of debate about what to do and what not to do, as far as where to hunt during the rut. To take this information into account, you must first conclude what stage of the rut your area is currently in. There are a few signs that will indicate what stage of rut your area is in. Based on my personal observations, when I start to see yearlings dogging does, it is usually the beginning of prerut. The younger bucks begin to put pressure on the does even If they are not coming into estrus just yet. This is followed by sightings of scrapes and small rubs here and there.

Short after the sighting of younger bucks running does, one will start to notice an increase of more sizable rubs and scrapes. During this time the does will be very close to coming into estrus and the more mature backs are cruising the area in search of these does that are on the verge. There will also be a difference in attitude with the mature bucks. Before the rut, one can sit and watch a mature buck browsing with one or multiple bucks. This is not the case now; he will be solitary until he finds a doe in heat. During this time, it is likely that one will notice more aggressive behavior in the bucks. There will be sparring and dominance acts to establish the most dominant buck in the area.

As soon as the first doe goes into estrus, it is not uncommon to see multiple mature bucks following in her footsteps. You can conclude that the rut is in full swing. This time is when all the summer feeding patterns and travel corridors you had figured out can go out the window. There is however a plan of attack you can take to try and get close to that mature buck you only get a glimpse at during the rut. Once again based off of my previous observations during the rut, a buck will stay with a doe for a couple days and then move on to another, to ensure he has passed on his genes. It is this time when he is locked down with the doe that this plan will give you a chance at harvesting him.

When the buck is locked down with the doe, he will usually try to keep her in an area of thick cover until she is ready to mate. If you can get remotely close to the area of dense cover all that must be done is to sit and wait. I have found best results with an area of open hardwoods, butting up to very dense thickets. The bucks will chase the does around the open hardwoods and then dog the does and keep them in the thick cover until the breed. The best time for this plan is in the morning because he most likely has had her bed up in the thickets all night and she will want to get out and get food and water. This is the time when you are hoping that she comes within range of your stand, because that big buck will be right on her footsteps.

There are many different approaches to hunting the rut, but if you stay around areas with scrapes, rubs does, and thickets, your chance at harvesting that elusive mature buck will increase