Mature Buck Strategies

Scouting Whitetail Rut Stand Setups

scouting whitetail rut

The best whitetail rut stand setups may include the ingredients of brushy bottlenecks, safe downwind habitat, deerless access, nearby doe bedding areas and the presence of historical buck sign. When you scout and locate all of those ingredients in one perfect spot, make sure that you choose the right stand location!

*Like I think this stand setup will become, some of my best treestand locations evolved from January Scouting Missions!

Off Season Scouting For Rut Treestand Locations

I am forever searching for my next great morning rut cruising stand location, and I think I just found one! For further details you can see how the location looks by watching the above video, but this is a spot that has been begging for a stand location since I first hunted the land in 2013. Finally, in 2018, it's going to happen. While a mature buck can walk by a great stand location at just about any time of the day, in my experience mature bucks move during the first few hours of the morning, much more than at any other time of the day. Nearly 75% of my top 25 bucks have been killed during the morning hours, so you can imagine I place a huge priority on my next great rut cruising morning setup up, and here is what I look for:brushy bottlenecks, safe downwind habitat, deerless access, nearby doe bedding areas and the presence of historical buck sign

1. Brushy Buck Movement Bottlenecks

Where several trails converge into one, is a great spot to scout and locate. However, when you can find a location that is choked with brushy cruising routes that are pinched between major habitat features- don't miss out! Often a 1-2 acre patch of heavy cruising cover can be grand central station when it comes to locating the major habitat hub of every cruising buck on a particular parcel.

2. Safe Downwind Habitat

Whether you are blowing your scent up and over habitat with morning thermals or into open hardwoods, across a pasture or off a cliff, making sure that your downwind scent is covered by the habitat is critical - because no scent elimination product, spray or piece of clothing, is really safe! By far (and it isn't even close) the best form of Deer Scent Control is simply, where you hang your stand. If you need to rely on the latest contraption, spray or article of clothing to eliminate your scent, you are headed in the wrong direction before you even step foot in the woods.

3. Deerless Access

If you have to spook deer on the way in, find another location. This most likely should have been listed as #1, but burning out your land and stands before you even take a seat, happens far too often on even some of the most heavily managed deer parcels. In fact, the more attractive that your land is, the more you have to manage the level of attraction to make sure that you aren't potentially placing deer that may smell you, hear you or see you before your hunt even begins.

4. Nearby Doe Bedding Areas

Finding a location that has adjacent doe bedding hotspots in several directions, is a far better choice for a hot rut cruising setup than a food source, waterhole or woodline. While social hotspots of food or high attraction creations may feature a huge amount of deer sign, make sure not to lured into locations that tend to capture more nighttime movement, than daytime.

5. History of Buck Sign

What's better than current big rubs and scrapes? A history of buck sign! A history of sign in a potential stand location, reveals that bucks have favored and moved thru the location for often a decade or more. Broken scrape branches and scarred trees always command my attention and they should for you too. When you think you have found the "perfect" spot, the collection of a history of sign will easily confirm your scouting efforts.

scouting whitetail rut

*A history of Buck Signis even more important to focus on for your scouting efforts, than current buck sign.

The Perfect Stand Location

The "perfect" stand location in the perfect spot is not so perfect, when you are in the center of the action! The perfect tree for a stand location should be at the side of the movement and not in the middle of the movement. By using topography and habitat to place yourself within a balance point that combines the ingredients of safe access and downwind habitat, along with a brushy bottleneck of mature buck cruising movement. Far too often hunters place themselves smack dab in the middle of the buck movement, with the likelihood that bucks scent them, hear them or see them the first time that they use the stand location. Instead, hunt like a predatory would. By choosing a great tree to ambush a mature buck from that allows you to hunt multiple times throughout the entire rut (or better yet entire season), then your ability to shoot the buck you are after is far greater thru several carefully planned non-invasive sits, then 1 poorly planned sit in the middle of the action.


After you find the perfect spot, make sure to choose a stand location that doesn't waste your efforts in the first sit. Like a great hunting parcel, a great treestand location should be able to be hunted for the entire season, instead of just one, "one and done" sit, during prime time. By scouting for the above 5 ingredients to take place in one location and then matching the perfect spot with the perfect tree to sit in, you will be well on your way to creating memories to last a lifetime for many years to come!


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