The rut is the one time of the year that the phrase “anything can happen”, really is true. Literally at any moment of the day, your whole season can turn on a dime. That’s why, for this handful of best days during the rut, you’ve got to maximize the amount of time you’re on stand. Just this past weekend, I headed out of the woods at 11:30 and stopped by a trail camera on the way back. When checking that camera, I had a picture of a buck at that scrape in front of the camera only 15 minutes before I was there! My buddy Josh was hunting nearby, and if he were on stand still, he might have had a crack at this buck.
The examples are countless, and most long time bowhunters probably have a story or two of the bucks they missed opportunities at because they got down from their stand just as the big boy walked up or something similar. Because of the consistent midday movement pattern that mature bucks take during this time of year, we’ve just got to make sure we as hunters are in the right position to capitalize on it.
So what does this mean for us? Two things. One, you can hunt all day. This is my strategy of choice during the rut. From before dark til after, I’ll be in my tree, patiently awaiting the approach of my target. I’m too paranoid about getting down and boogering a deer off, so I like to stay on stand all day. For others, the best option might be to move stands at some point in the day. If you hunt a morning stand, and then in late morning or early afternoon you quietly sneak to a better evening stand, you can still hunt most of the day. This can be a nice way to break the monotony up and keep you a little more refreshed. You just have to be aware of the risk you take every time you leave the stand.
Whether you’re staying in one stand all day or moving between two, it’s still a lot of hours in a tree. For me, the key to enduring these long hours is to be prepared. Prepared, specifically, with food, water and some kind of entertainment. I’ll bring a lunch and quiet snacks and a couple bottles of water to hold me over. Additionally to keep my mind awake, I’ll bring a couple magazines or a book. I’ve also recently discovered e-books on my phone. Using Google Books, I can download new books and read them right on my Android phone, without needing to worry about noisy pages turning, or bulky objects in my pack. It’s been a great new find.
So this rut, do your best to spend as much time as possible in the treestand. There’s no better time than now to go full throttle, grind through the long hours and put that buck on the ground.