I sat stock still in the tree as she bounded towards me, steam blowing out of her nostrils and tail held high. Above the bristle of the few remaining leaves, I heard a steady and ever loudening “urp, urp, urp”. Twenty yards behind the doe, a tall and wide rack burst from the thick swamp grass and the buck bird-dogged his way right towards the doe fawn and my tree stand. I steadied my gun, took a deep breath…and then woke up.
Yes, this was merely a dream, but it’s one that I hope will be a premonition of things to come. With the much talked about “second rut” either here or fast approaching, the chances of a December rutting buck running into my life could be more than just a fantasy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What is the “second rut”, you ask? For those that aren’t aware, the second rut is a period of time about 1 month after the peak of the rut, in which fawns or other does that were not bred yet come into estrus again for a short period of time. This brief period of time in early/mid December can provide occasional flurries of rutting action, as bucks chase around the last few remaining chances for action. Now with all that being said, the second rut is not nearly as prevalent or noticeable as the primary rut. But there can still be some action, and because of that, I think it’s worth discussing some ways to capitalize on this time period. So here are a few simple, but helpful tips to help you make the most of the second rut if it rears it’s head in your neck of the woods!
1. Hunt The Does: Just like the main rut, when a doe is in heat, the bucks will flock to her. So hunting known doe bedding or feeding areas is always a great option. Additionally it’s been hypothesized that areas with more does than bucks have more second rut action. This makes sense, as these areas would have too few bucks to breed all the does in the original rut, leaving a few left to cycle back through in December. If you have a property with way too many does, this could be your spot to catch that second rut spike.
2. Hunt Travel Corridors: Another tried and true rut tactic is to hunt travel corridors, and again this applies well to the second rut. Given that we’re in the late season, catching deer moving from bedding to feeding will most likely have the best results. But keep in mind that these deer have been pressured all fall, and the travel corridors they use could be different now than they were earlier. Look for the thickest cover that offers passage from bedding to feeding and set up. More weary does will travel these thick areas, and without a doubt this is where the bucks will travel as well.
3. Be Ready: While late season action on food sources can be great at any time in the late season, you’ve got to be especially on your toes during the second rut time frame. Noticeable rutting action will most likely be rare, but when it happens it can happen fast and furious. Stay on your toes and don’t get caught unaware. In the late season, it’s easy to assume action won’t happen until late evening. But if a hot doe comes through, all hell can break loose in an instant and you don’t want to miss out on that.
While the second rut may be rare to experience, it’s definitely important to be aware of it and a few tactics for taking advantage of it’s occurrence. If nothing else, the possibility of second rut can do wonders for your attitude and sense of hope in the woods. So keep hunting hard and be ready for that rutting buck if he does come running out in front of you! Just be sure you’re actually awake!
For more tips and tactics for the second rut, visit the links below.