The Rut is when Big Bucks lose their minds! Hunters lose their minds when these critters come crashing through their hunting areas chasing does. Every bit of smarts goes down the tubes when Bucks have Does on their mind.

One Buck can mate with many does. 30 or more is not uncommon. Preferably, wildlife managers hope that only the wise old smart Bucks do the deed. The truth is that all bucks take their turns, and a doe can be bred several times. It is only during a small window that the doe will become pregnant. That may not be the first, second, or tenth mating. It is just about timing. If the doe is I estrus and the timing of fertility is perfect, future deer will happen.

The Best time to tag a Big Buck is during the Rut. In the eastern states, this time begins in November and can run into December. There is pre and post Rut also. Wise Old Bucks turn their attention to does. As a result, they may miss that patch of orange, or scent of human, or … Many great bucks charge across roadways and get killed by traffic. Rut prevents them from looking both ways.

In Montana, the Whitetail rut is earlier than back east, and the Mulie Rut happens after the hunting season is over. The Best rut is when Bull Elk go nuts! Usually there is 4 days when bulls go wild. There is nothing better than an 800 lb. Bull busting brush coming your way! Even the smartest and oldest Bull cannot resist the Rut!

If you want to tag a trophy, the best time is during the Rut! If you spend more time afield during the Rut, then the odds are in your favor. Look for Rut sign. This means scrapes, rubs, and areas where the leaves are torn up. Hard used trails are also critical. Look for stream crossings, narrow valley trails, and choke points. This where you set up.

Scents are not a big deal, currently. Normally, you will see a Buck or Bull, trailing a hot doe or cow. You certainly want to cover your scent as best you can. It is like hunting 15 minutes before the Bars are closing. You have a limited window of opportunity.

Scents and other deer attractants are hugely important in almost all phases of the hunting season, but the rut especially.

The key is picking the shot! Always take your first Best shot. If you wait for a better shot, you will be enjoying Tag Soup. Accuracy is critical because you will never repeat the same shot. The erratic behavior of Bucks and Does during Rut is random and not predictable. Take the shot or never see it again.

Now is the Rut in most eastern areas. Sure, they brag about pre rut, post Rut, and Rut for the late drop Does that do not come into heat until Christmas. Take advantage of any and every opportunity that presents itself. The best way to do this is to be afield.

The success of a hunt Is not measured by what you tagged. It is about why you did not fill your tag. If you are not paying attention to this, then you are hunting blind. Every hunt gives you clues to what the critters are doing and where they are doing it. Go where the action is!

The best advice to hunt the Rut is to prepare before it happens. Certainly, you need to master your weapon. It is also important to do your homework. Understand why and where you are placing your stands.

I wrote an article about called “7”. Hunting elk with a Bow is about 7 encounters. Most hunters, that I have guided take 7 encounters to seal the deal. If they miss or fail to shoot, we back up to zero!

“I love when a plan comes together!” This was George Peppard’s phrase when the plan came together on the A Team. Hunting success is never about one thing. It is about when everything comes together. The planning, preparation, and patience all reach a climax when the critter is in range and the ending is near. If you snooze, you lose!

The most important part of the Rut is being there. This is the time when you burn your overtime and vacation days. Weekend hunting may not be enough, especially on public land. There is a limited opportunity to tag out during the Rut. It may be during archery, black powder, or shotgun/rifle season but if you are not afield, you will not tag out.

Sadly, many of us must work for a living. Most jobs are Monday thru Friday. Weekends and maybe some evenings are all we get. Do what you must but, if you cannot put in the time, you may need to rely more on luck than skill.

I have hunted Maryland, Montana, and Pennsylvania during the Rut. It does not matter where if you are not there. Less hunters are afield during the Rut. If you understand sign, scouting, and hunting, you have a better chance of filling your tag than on the opening day of rifle season when all bets are off.

If you snooze you lose!

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, find him hunting the Rut art at