Oh, sweet November! For deer hunters, the month of November is what we have spent the entire year waiting for. The month of November is primarily the time in most regions that the whitetail deer have their breeding season or what is more commonly known as the rut.
The rut is a particular time of year when deer, more specifically bucks, fall out of their everyday routine. During this time, a buck's travel routes or daily patterns are unpredictable, leaving deer hunters on the edge of their seat, ready for a mature buck to make a mistake, long enough to take a shot.
I recently sat down with three different hunting pros to get their advice on harvesting a mature buck during the November rut. I asked each individual if there was only one go-to tip they could give other hunters when hunting the rut, what would it be?
Hunt The "Heat Cover"- Matt Jennings of The Game TV
Matt Jennings of “The Game TV” says that November is his favorite time of the year to be in a trees tand, chasing after a mature buck. Jennings states that he has had many successful hunts when hunting during the November rut over the years. However, he says he discovered a new tactic hunters should try when bucks and does become “locked down.” (The term “locked down” refers to when a buck stays beside a doe in heat until she is ready to breed.)
"Last year, while hunting during the first couple weeks of November, I noticed that deer movement was unusually slow," says Jennings. He then added, "It dawned on me that the does were probably locked down in the heavier cover." That is when Jennings found what he calls "heat cover."
"When a doe is in heat, she likes to go to the heavier cover and be by herself," explains Jennings. "When I began hunting the thicker heat cover, I noticed several deer going in and out, especially bucks who were checking the hot doe," added Jennings. "The first day of sitting near the "heat cover" after not seeing much movement, I saw close to 60 deer in one day and ended up taking a mature buck that same evening."
Pick The Best Days And Hunt All Day - Tad Brown - Hunters Specialties
Veteran hunter and Project Manager for Hunters Specialties, Tad Brown, has spent many years in the hunting industry because of his passion and skills for hunting predators, turkeys, and whitetail deer. Unfortunately, Brown doesn't get the chance to spend as much time hunting as he would like due to a busy work schedule. With a busy schedule and limited days to hunt, Brown says he has become a fan of handpicking the best days when choosing when he will be hunting.
"I have become a religious user in Drury's DeerCast when I choose what days I will be hunting," says Brown. Brown chooses to hunt based on the activity from his cellular game cameras and what DeerCast predicts. Brown added that he hunts when he finds a day during the rut projected to be great. "Unlike, when I was younger, when I find an ideal day to hunt, I sit the entire day," says Brown.
Brown went on to say that in the past, he would leave the woods around 10 in the morning and go back hunting later that afternoon. However, since Brown has chosen to hunt all day, he says mid-day is the better time to hunt the rut. "During the time that I normally would have been out of the tree, I have seen a good amount of buck activity," says Brown. He then went on to say that he believes the buck action that he has witnessed is more significant than early morning or evening.
Think Outside Of The Box and Hunt Mid Day - Jeff Lindsey - The Lindsey Way TV
From the age of ten, when he took his first deer, then later his first deer with a bow at age twelve, Jeff Lindsey has had a passion for hunting whitetail deer. The passion for deer hunting that Lindsey and his dad David felt has led them from hunting together for fun to working for Drury Outdoors for seven years and now to hosting one of the top TV shows on the Outdoor Channel, The Lindsey Way.
"The November Rut is a magical time of year in the deer woods," says Lindsey. Adding, "during the November rut, you have to think outside of the box.” He went on to explain that during the month of November, they spend several days hunting.
"You cannot decide not to go hunting because you don't have a big deer on camera, or the weather is too warm, or you don't like the moon phase," says Lindsey. Stating that "during the rut, you have to spend as much time in the woods as you can." Lindsey adds that hunters should not overlook the period during mid-day. "Of course, the first couple hours of the day are going to be good, but in my opinion, the last two hours of the day is the least active period during the rut.
When going back and looking, we observed that the period between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. was the most active period for rut activity. As Tad Brown also suggested, Lindsey stated that if one has only a few days to hunt, they should spend all day hunting and maximize their opportunity.
“We spend 15 to 17 days a month hunting, so we don’t normally hunt all day; instead, we may move stands during later parts of the day and refresh to stay focused,” However, Lindsey emphasizes that being in the stand from 10 to 2 is crucial for November rut success.