Nick C. from West Virginia writes to ask, which period of the rut is the best time to bowhunt. “What time in the rut is the best chance to harvest a quality buck? Is it the pre-rut, peak-rut, or post-rut? When are bucks the most active?”
Dr. Dave Samuel
Good questions Nick, but there is no one good answer. I think the time when bucks are most active is the peak-rut. This is the time when bucks are chasing does, so they are moving around a lot. As I see it, the problem in hunting the peak-rut is that the bucks are on hot does — at least the big bucks are. And they will stay with a hot doe for two to three days until they breed her. During that time, although they are running around, it is difficult to call them in. They have what they want so they stay with the doe.
For me, the very best time to bowhunt is the pre-rut. This is the two-week period before the peak rut, and for most of the northern United States that period comes during the first two weeks of November. This is when bucks are looking for does. Thus, you can call, rattle, hunt rub and scrape lines, etc., and have a good chance of getting on such bucks. If I had only two weeks to live every year, it would be the first two weeks of November.
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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.