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Hunting the Rut: 10 tips to make the most of it

I am sure if you asked bucks in Nebraska they would suggest this is their favorite time of year.   They finally get to search for a girlfriend and the gals are finally interested in them.   The rut is a magical time for sure and deer hunters all across Nebraska are taking advantage of it.

Ask 10 deer hunters, and I would be 8 really like hunting deer during this time.   And for good reason.  Love makes a guy do….well….dumb things.   It makes deer move when they should stay put.  It makes them skip meals when they should be getting ready for winter.   It makes them fight other bucks when they should avoid a fight and it makes them chase does relentlessly when they probably would benefit from a more sedentary life in the fall.   But, in the wildlife world, success is measured in one final act of passing on your genes!

Firearm hunters have one more weekend to participate in this timeless tradition of waking at the crack of dawn to meet with family and friends and chase deer in Nebraska.   Here are a few tips to help make the most of it:

  1. Stay on stand – I say this time and time again but this is the weekend for sitting on stand all day long as deer will be moving at any time, chasing does, being bumped by other hunters, etc.   Bring a drink and lunch and your set.  Bring a book to read and don’t forget to Facebook your friends and let them know you are hunting.  Mild temps should make this pretty enjoyable this weekend across most of the state.  Don’t forget your fall arrest system!
  2. Successful state of mind – successful hunters just know that a nice deer will peak its head around the corner at any minute.  They are ready.  Their gun is ready.  Their freezer is ready.   Get the point?
  3. Make noise – During the opening weekend I watched two little fork horns duking it out in the battle of the century.   Bucks grinding antlers to fight for dominance occurs at a young age.  They know what that sound means.  Bring your rattling antlers and let them know there is a new sheriff in town!
  4. Control abnormal sound – This may go without saying but by the second weekend you have very little room for error.  Slamming truck doors, clanging objects on your stand, opening loud packages of food (this one usually is a struggle for me) can all alert bucks to your presence.
  5. Nose to the wind – always important.   You cannot harvest a deer if they smell you long before you see them.
  6. Scents – time to pull out all the stops.   Deer are worried the last doe in heat was found yesterday.  Fresh scent will get the attention of most bucks.  Does are in full estrous now so match that scent accordingly.   Mock up scrapes using estrous urine, buck urine, etc.
  7. Dress for success– It is hard to stay on stand all day if you are shivering cold.  Now is a good time to bring along a heavy parka and overalls with you to the stand.   After sitting for an hour or so, I like to put these on.  It is amazing how chilly 45 degrees can fill with a slight breeze all morning.
  8. Don’t overcall – I have heard hunters hitting the grunt tube every few minutes.   While this may work okay early season, deer are now a bit more educated.   Tone the grunts and bleats down a bit and, if you just have to make noise, rattle antlers.
  9. Refer to rule #1!
  10. Just have fun – that is why we do this anyway.   Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the big buck hype, need to fill a tag, etc.   When you think about it, I have way more memories of family, friends, good food, warm camp fires and nature experiences than I will ever have of making the shot.   These are the reasons I take to the field each year anyway.   A harvest is just a bonus.    Albeit a tasty one!

About jeff rawlinson

Jeff is the Education Manager in the Communications Division with Game and Parks where he has worked for the last 15 years. He oversees the Hunter Education, Boater Education, Hunter Outreach and Shooting Range Development for the Commission and is a devout hunter, angler, wildlife viewer, naturalist, father and husband. He holds a BS and MS from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been a Hunter Education Instructor for over 20 years, NRA firearms instructor and range officer, National Archery in the Schools Program Archery Instructor Specialist and member of the National NASP Board, sits on the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunter Recruitment and Retention Committee and Education Committee. Jeff is an avid handgun hunter, loves to chase turkeys in the spring, squirrel hunting enthusiast and philosopher of the outdoors. He is an avid shooter and loves to spend outdoor time with family and friends. He has a passion for exciting others about the outdoors. A history buff, Jeff is a strong supporter of our North American Model of Conservation and tries to spread the message of its importance and relevance every chance he gets.

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