published November 7, 2017 by David Faulk

Arkansas Rut Times and Tips

As the rut approaches in Arkansas, I wanted to share some rut tactics from Field and Stream.  Below is the article titled; “Hunting the Rut, Four Killer Tactics” I have also attached a picture from the Arkansas Game and Fish Comission showing peak rut times across the state.

 

“1. GET IN BED WITH DOES

With rutting bucks frantically searching for females, it makes perfect sense to camp out where does spend most of their daylight hours: in bed.

Start at a prime food source and walk into the woods, concentrating on gentle brushy knolls or benches, overgrown pastures, pines, and tall grassy cover. Look for groups of oval depressions of differing sizes. Mark as many such bedding areas as possible on a topo map. Then study your map for travel corridors that connect them, such as creek beds, gullies, or thick cover.

Mature bucks will scent-check a group of does from the downwind edge of the bedding area, making this a prime spot to hang a stand. As the rut progresses, bucks will constantly move from one doe bedding area to the next along connecting travel routes; hang stands here, too.

Does come into estrus at slightly different times. If the does in a group seem nonchalant and mostly interested in eating, find a more active group. If you spot a large doe that’s particularly active, pacing around, and glancing over her shoulder, that doe is ready for a mate, and you should focus on her group. Check the first group again in a few days—unless you already got your buck.

2. JOIN THE CHASE

Whether you see bucks dogging does through the timber, spot the swath of hoof-scuffed leaves, or hear the huffing, grunting, stick-crackling deer stampede, you can expect the spot where you’ve identified chasing activity to stay hot for several days.

So go back there with a climbing stand or featherweight hang-on and set up for an ambush. Where exactly should you sit? Favor any thick doe bedding cover, natural travel lanes, or pinch points within shooting range of where you saw the deer, spotted the sign, or heard the chase.

Another good option is to get even more aggressive, especially if you’re gun hunting. If you see or hear a chase happening nearby, and it doesn’t seem like the deer will come your way, hurry over and get involved. Remember, bucks are going nuts and does are in a panic, so they often won’t notice you. Try to cut in front of the deer to get a shot. Or, just wait. Buck-pushed does tend to circle within their home area—just like rabbits chased by hounds. Bottom line? If a buck chases a doe past you within shooting range but you don’t get a shot, stay put and ready yourself for the return trip. If the action takes place out of range, take advantage of the commotion to position yourself in the perfect spot to hold out for the return trip.

3. HUNT THE HIGH WIND

“A stiff breeze is the kiss of death for hunting on most days,” says Tim Walmsley, an Illinois whitetail expert. “But during the rut, I make sure I’m in the woods on a blustery day. Big deer will be moving.”

Why would a rocking wind get bucks rolling? “First,” says Walmsley, “high winds typically usher in a cold front following hot weather, offering physical relief for deer. Second, pre-estrous does tired of being harassed by bucks figure they can escape their suitors more easily when wind covers their movement and noise, so they’re up and about. Bucks start catching whiffs of doe scent all over and run around trying to find the females. This builds on itself until you get a kind of chaos.”

Meanwhile, gusty conditions make it harder for deer to hear and easier for hunters to go undetected. What’s more, windy-day bucks tend to take refuge in predictable places, making them simpler to find. “They head to an alley, bowl, creekbottom, dense timber, or the lee side of a hill,” Walmsley says. “When the wind is pushing hard in one direction, I head straight toward these spots,” he adds.

Walmsley has found that it’s helpful for him to listen to a radio to learn when the wind will hit. “As soon as it does, I pile out of my stand and nearly run to get closer to protected bedding cover, expecting bucks will move. I settle in until the action stops or I stop a buck.”

4. SIT FOR LUNCH

Lots of us know that midday hunting can be good during the rut, but whitetail fanatic Pat Hailstones of Cincinnati, Ohio, takes it a step further: “Hunting early and late in the day is practically a waste of time now,” he says. “I see plenty of little bucks then, but not the big boys. When the rut kicks into high gear, I usually sleep late.” 

Don’t think Hailstones lacks motivation. His passion for big bucks has helped him tag more than a dozen Pope & Young whitetails, including a pair of Booners. Most of them have fallen between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“In 30 years of hunting, I’ve seen the same thing in every state I’ve hunted, including Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas,” he says. “Trophy bucks don’t run helter-skelter early and late in the day like younger bucks do. The does are moving then, which makes them harder for bucks to find,” Hailstones explains. “The bigger, smarter bucks wait for does to lie down for the day; then they rise and circle downwind of bedding areas to scent-check for does that have come into estrus.

Hailstones intercepts midday bucks by setting treestands along overgrown fencerows and other funnels that connect doe bedding areas. To prevent the bucks from getting wise to his setups, Hailstones doesn’t go near these stands until the breeding season begins. “Even at the peak of the rut, there will be days when you don’t see anything at midday,” Hailstones says. “But when a buck does come by your stand, it’s going to be a good one.'”

 


About the Author

David Faulk
Owner of Arkansas Outdoors Online. Christian. Outdoors enthusiast, with years of experience hunting and fishing across the Natural State. Mississippi State Wildlife Biology Graduate.




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