By Mark Kenyon
When you picture deer hunting during the rut, I imagine you see does running, bucks chasing, and arrows bloodied. Or at least that’s how I imagine it myself. The reality of the rut though, at least for me, looks a lot different.
Sure, there are occasionally moments of excitement like we dream of, but the majority of the time is simply a grind. Long days on stand, brutally early mornings, freezing cold weather, and hours and hours of seeing no deer. In short, it can be tough. And when the going gets tough during the rut, it’s easy to get frustrated, upset and discouraged. This isn’t how the rut is supposed to be … right?
I can certainly relate to this, as over the past five days of hunting I’ve seen nothing but a handful of does, a fork horn and a spike. Not exactly what a rut hunters dreams are made of. So the question the is … what should you do when the rut is NOT rocking? Here are my four basic pieces of advice …
1. Back to basics: When the action is slow, it’s tempting to start questioning your decisions and searching for new tactics or ideas in an effort to find that secret to success. Don’t get too crazy with this though. During the rut the best thing to do is to keep at it and keep it simple. Remember the basics – does and funnels. If you’re not hunting a pinch points of some kind or an area that should have does, feel free to re-think your plan. If you are sticking to these basics though, just keep sticking to em.
2. Put in the time: If your rut hunting plan is sound (ie focused on does/funnels), it’s now time to grind it out. The action might be slow now, but if you give it time and stay on stand long enough in the right areas, you’ll eventually be there when the action picks up. Don’t get discouraged and head back in for a nap. Don’t get lazy and sleep in a couple mornings. Stay at it, stay on stand and you’ll still be in the game.
3. Stay focused: If you’re hunting the rut like I do, you’re spending an inordinate amount of time in a treestand – in my case 12-13 hours a day. And with all that time sitting around, if you’re not seeing deer, it can get easy to get bored and lose focus. But do your best to minimize this! During the rut things can change 180 degrees in just a matter of seconds and your season can go from disappointing to the best ever. Make sure you’re ready when these opportunities drop into your lap. When you find yourself dozing off or getting distracted, remind yourself of this. It can all change in seconds!
4. Positive thinking: And finally, stay positive. Even though you imagined your rut vacation going differently (to this point), there’s no use in getting down on yourself already. Stay focused, stay positive and eventually good things will happen. The only thing you can control is your own attitude, so make sure that you’re as well prepared mentally as possible for that opportunity, whenever it might arise. This attitude is the key to being able to apply the previous three pieces of advice properly. If you’re able to stay positive you’ll be able to implement your rut hunting plan and stay confident, you’ll be able to stay on stand and grind it out, and you’ll be able to maintain focus.
If the rut is giving you fits already, don’t worry. There’s plenty of action yet to come. Take theses four pieces of advice to heart, and I trust you’ll be in for some exciting hunts in the coming days.
Finally, if you’re looking for a little more of an edge, be sure to check out our Rules of the Rut 2.0 eBooks and podcast series. As part of the package you’ll get about 40 chapters (written by some of the top whitetail writers) worth of rut hunting tactics, and nearly three hours of exclusive interviews with savvy deer addicts on exactly what you need to do in the coming days to kill your deer of a lifetime.
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