If you are prepared and have a mature buck patterned, there is no better time to successfully hunt a target buck than during the Pre Rut. Although there can always be a rollercoaster of emotions, the following video reveals how the highs and lows of hunting a target buck can pay huge rewards during the Pre Rut.
Pre Rut Target Buck Strategies
Diego offered a great journey that spanned multiple seasons and I have expereinced that you can find the same level of Pre Rut success! However, several things have to happen when targeting a specific mature buck, for you to connect during the Pre Rut.
The Peak Rut is the ultimate crutch. What I mean by that is that a good stand located within a mature buck area, can produce random mature buck encounters during the entire rut, regardless of the amount of scouting or intel that you have accumulated for any buck at all. While the Peak Rut takes a great stand location, the Pre Rut takes a great plan. If you are up to the challenge, here are 3 strategies that need to happen for you to find success during the Pre Rut:
1. Mature Buck Present
You can't hunt what you don't have. Whether you locate great food and cover or build it yourself, it is critical that you are hunting in an area that includes great Fall habitat. Great Fall habitat for mature bucks includes high stem count cover types of grasses, briars, conifer, shrubs and hardwood regen, while great food includes a diversity blend of greens and sometimes corn or beans. If you lack quality food (pure ag land doesn't count) and quality cover on or directly adjacent to the land that you hunt, you can expect the deer to focus elsewhere during the Pre Rut.
2. Unpressured Stand Locations
A great hunting plan that targets specific mature bucks during the Pre Rut, includes a variety of stand locations that have not already been overhunted. When Diego was harvested above on 10/31, it was from a stand that was used for the first time for the entire season. 6 stand locations had been used a total of 8 times in 6 weeks, with harvest opportunities from 3 different stands within bowrange, for the 5 year old buck. Stand combinations that include multiple access routes, a variety of wind direction uses and that can be utilized during both the morning and evening are key.
3. Purely Hunt The Weather
By hunting only during the best of weather conditions, your odds of success become extremely high. However they become incredibly high when your neighbors do not. When you are the only one in the neighborhood with quality Fall cover, a variety of upressured stand locations and that chooses only the best days to hunt, your odds of encountering the best target bucks in the area soar to levels hard to imagine. Whether it be an 8 degree temperature drop from one morning to the next, a 10 degree drop in daytime temps or following extreme weather patterns of wind and rain, less is more when it comes to predictable target buck encounters.
*Make sure to check out our collection of highly reviewed Whitetail Strategy books (and Ebooks!) by visiting, Whitetail Success By Design books.
The story of Diego was 3 seasons in the making. 3 seasons of trail cam pics, encounters, scouting efforts and planning boiled down to 1 fateful morning. By knowing where Diego lived and how he moved where he lived, all that was left to do was to choose a stand rotation strategy that allowed us to take advantage of the weather patterns. When the temperatures dropped several degrees on the evening of 10/30 and 10/31, choosing unpressured stands to take advantage of his movements proved highly successful. This has been a hunting strategy of mine for nearly 3 decades, and it has proven to be highly reliable over and over again. Hunting Pre Rut target bucks isn't for everyone, but if you are up to the challenge it can be done.