You Can Pattern Rutting Bucks

Tom A. from Kentucky writes to ask about patterning bucks. “Everything I read says that you can’t pattern bucks during the rut. But last year I saw the same, mature buck three times, in the same general area over a one-week period. I never got a shot at him, but he seemed fairly predictable during the rut. What gives?”

Dr. Dave Samuel

I know that you often hear, and often read, the experts say that bucks are unpredictable during the rut. This is true to a degree, but research and common sense tells me that YOU CAN pattern rutting bucks!

For example, we now know that rutting bucks often leave their home range for a day and go long distances, stopping in areas where there are does. They may do this several times during a rut period. We also know that to find rutting bucks, you need to be where there are does. We also know that a lot of good bucks are shot in the same vicinity where they “got their picture taken” fairly often on a particular trail camera during the fall.

Put that all together, and I think you can pattern bucks in the rut. If you see a buck moving along a field or along a trail, headed somewhere during the rut. He may well be on one of those day movements headed for where he knows does are located. If he doesn’t find a hot doe, he may well make that same trip the next day, and the day after that, until he hits a hot doe at his destination. Set up on the trail he is taking and you may get a chance at him. Give it a try!

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, manager of Guide Outdoors & Social Content at to 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.

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