Although chasing whitetails, writing about whitetails and touring the North 1/2 of the country for whitetails has been my full time career for years, I still have to be efficient with my time! What about you? If you are like me and love everything whitetails, you may find that you also have to plan strategically to balance family and career on one side of your life, and your passion for your deer pursuits on the other side.
In 2014 I was writing at my parents house, after a great breakfast and conversation around the kitchen table, before making the 560 mile trek back to Coon Valley. The last 2 days I had spent in Southern OH preparing for the rut, after driving 300 miles extra to see my daughter play basketball to begin the trip. I felt blessed to have been able to have spent a little time with my kids, a little time in the OH woods and some time with my incredible parents all rolled into a 2000 mile weekend balancing act! Family, whitetails, friends and work...they all blend together in my world so it pays to get the most out of each and every time I enter the woods.
Looking ahead to my personal hunting season, there are 4 weekends approaching fast that can't be missed. Of course I hunt the cold fronts, but not everyone can drop their other priorities and head to the woods when the weather conditions call. Stay tuned for a "weather twist" in the conclusion, but here is my weekend whitetail rut guide to help you maximize your mature buck opportunities.
Saturday, October 24th
In MI, MN, NY and WI, nothing screams "PRE-RUT!" louder than this weekend. Do you have a great buck that you have been getting trail cam pictures of from late September through October? This is the time to recognize a calm, frosty morning and to take a seat on the downwind side of a big buck's daytime bedding area, or on a hidden brushy travel corridor between quality daytime bedding areas. I like to approach a great morning stand away from food with a "back-door" approach that often takes me for a long, pre-dawn walk through non-deer areas. If you have a local, core buck using the lands that you hunt close to, or during daytime hours...don't miss out!
Saturday, October 31st
This weekend may just feature the perfect blend of maximizing your harvest opportunity for a local giant that has established a hunting season residency on the land you hunt, as well as the potential for the harvest of a cruising monster from your adjacent neighbors. Although mature bucks are likely to have their pick of receptive does, this is still a hot time in the whitetail woods as bucks are aggressive, dominant and have been known to begin wandering a bit. An all-day sit may be in order, but the entire morning, as well as 1-2 hours prior to dark can't be missed! If you can plan your sits to take advantage of potential bedding area movements in the morning, and then switch to another stand to observe evening feeding patterns-you can experience the best of both worlds, and get the most out of your hunting time.
*If you are hunting the Southern portion of the North 1/2 of the whitetail range, you can shift this entire weekend rut guide back 1 week. You can count on locations such as Southern IL, IN and OH to experiencing the phases of the rut about 7-10 days later than more Northerly regions. For a complete guide to timing the rut in your area, check out "When To Hunt The Whitetail Rut".
Saturday, November 7th
If October 24th is the beginning of the rut, the period between November 1st and November 8th places us right smack dab in the middle of it. Major cruising patterns, aggressive fighting and mature bucks seeking their 2nd or 3rd doe to breed for the year all fuel a crazy and unpredictable time of the rut to be in the whitetail woods. Do you have a local giant you are still after? You might see him...or he might be a mile away or more. Does your neighbor have an outstanding brute that you are hoping travels by one of your stands? You may see him...or you may not! Although not as precise of a time to take an individual buck, this is an outstanding time to kill any mature buck that lives in the entire neighborhoods of several hundred acres or more. All-day sits can be highly productive, but I still change stands to take advantage of separate morning bedding patterns and then evening feeding patterns.
Saturday, November 14th
The last days of the rut are fast approaching during this weekend, and if you haven't tagged out during the previous 3 opportunities described during the weekend whitetail rut guide, now is your chance! I encourage you to focus on long, cruising patterns of funnel crossings, doe bedding areas and evening food sources. It may be too late for a bedding area stand location for a local giant-or maybe not-but connecting on a buck who has an established core area a mile away or more is not out of the question.
What about you, which weekend will work the best for you? My personal choice will be to jump between SW WI and Southern OH, as my hunting tactics will be applied to both private ag land and vast wooded public land locations. This also makes a perfect balance of hunting lands, with Southern Ohio's rut taking place about 7-10 days later than where I hunt in Wisconsin.
The miles will add-up and the balancing act will continue, but those 4 weekends are on my short-term radar, and I hope that they are for you!
How can you apply the "weather twist"? If you have the flexibility of a 3-4 day weekend, try to pick the day off from work to coincide with the coldest and most calm conditions. For example because on OH public land I will be looking for long-range cruising monarchs that may cover many miles, my first potential weekend to hunt covers November 7th. If the conditions are cold on the frontside of the weekend my partners and I will take a Thursday/Friday off...and if they are cold on the backside, we will take Monday/Tuesday off. If you can, it pays to add a weather twist to your hunt to help you maximize your opportunites, during your weekend whitetail rut guide for success!