The annual whitetail rut is unquestionably the best mature buck movement trigger. However a skilled mature buck hunter should be able to harvest an old brute during anytime of the hunting season. But how can this be accomplished when the rut only occurs at a significant level for 2-3 weeks of the season at best? Because there is a collection of highly defined times that mature buck movements take place outside of the rut as well.
*If you like learning all that you can about mature buck hunting strategies, make sure that you check out my"Whitetail Success By Design"series of books.
Don't be held captive by the predictably unpredictable annual whitetail rut, but instead make sure to keep a keen eye open for the following 5 triggers of buck movement.
Top 5 Mature Buck Movement Triggers
Although these movement triggers often take place in some type of combination with each other, it is important to understand the incredible influence that each one contributes to pushing an old monarch to his feet.
Heavy snow and blizzard conditions have a way of not only producing some great deer movement after the front, but before the rut as well. Blizzards can be great because deer are forced to hunker down for multiple days at a time. This equals missed feedings, depleted energy reserves and a very hungry deer herd.
Heavy snows do not often take place until after the rut, and after deer have been experiencing the roller coaster of Fall weather for several weeks or more. Unlike September, October and November cold fronts that most often include thunderstorms, light snows and moderate temperature lows; an all-out blizzard will produce heavy snows, high winds and extreme cold conditions. When the conditions of severe cold, heavy snow and extreme winds are combined to create critical Winter conditions that last a few days or more, deer know to feed heavy on the front side and backside of the storm. Make sure to find a stand that allows you to take advantage of heavy evening feeding patterns when the conditions are calm before and after the storm. But keep in mind that if the temperatures are 15-20 degrees or more below average for your area after the front, in may take a slight warm up for deer to transform from energy conservation mode, to heavy feeding mode.
*I love hunting in the snow, but it took many years of near frost-bit fingers to figure out how to stay warm! To read how to survive post blizzard conditions, make sure to read "Staying Warm In The Deer Stand".
Mature bucks gravitate to the habitat with the least amount if hunting pressure. This can take time! Mature bucks often have multiple locations that have offered them safety during the past, and the key is to allow the land that you hunt to become the best in the neighborhood. But it takes more than just safe, quality cover; it also takes quality food as well! By offering quality cover and food in one location, combined with an obvious lack of significant hunting pressure, you can easily set your land apart from the majority of hunting lands in your area. Keep in mind that while quality food and cover can never make up for high levels of hunting pressure, they sure can enhance a property that promotes low pressure hunting tactics! Being the lowest hunting pressure parcel in the neighborhood can lay off big time when the season begins to get serious during the weeks leading up to the rut.
*Hunting pressure can throw an immediate deer or two your way. However, when it comes to mature buck hunting a gentle push over several days or more is even better. To make sure you are set up to take advantage of surrounding pressure, check out "Hunting Pressure Secrets For Mature Bucks".
Rain is an awesome trigger because it's dreary and dark consistency, creates bright and shining moments of opportunity. The greater the level of darkness and damp conditions, the greater the value of hunting conditions that you can experience when the rains subside. By keeping a close eye on the radar, make sure to not only be in a stand when the rain stops, but for major breaks of 2-3 hours or more during the front as well. Effective rain hunting practices often require you to get a little wet, while making sure that you are already in place when the clouds give way to shining moments of opportunity.
*Is the rain putting a damper on your hunt? Check out how to use soggy weather to find a mature buck by reading, "Bow Season Bucks In The Rain".
Sometimes it rains, sometimes it snows and sometimes there has been various levels of hunting pressure to push bucks your way. But just about any, major deer movement trigger is not complete without significant changes in the wind. Instead of looking for completely calm, focus on substantial change. For example if the wind blows hard and constant for 3 days between 20 and 40 mph, the deer can be counted on to move heavily when the wind speeds drop 30-40% or more. It isn't so much a perfect wind speed that creates mature buck movement, but instead a reduction in wind speed; so make sure that you are in the woods and ready when the conditions change.
*Learn how to use the wind to predict mature buck movements by reading, "How To Hunt Whitetails In The Wind".
1. Temperature Change
In simple terms if the weather is unseasonably hot, mild or boring it pays to seek other activities. On the other hand if the weather is unseasonably cold; make sure to hit the woods! Riding the weather patterns of the hunting season will feature a rollercoaster changing conditions. Although you can't sit in your bosses office and pick a great day to be in the woods months in advance, you can count on predictable mature movement triggers to define success. When rollercoaster passes the lows of temperature change, make sure that are riding the lows...and not the highs.
*Nick Bauman used major temperature changes to predict his success with this 2015 WI 216" Monster! To check out the conditions that pushed him into the woods, make sure to read "Immediate Early Season Hunting Alert".
***Honorable Mention: Moon
What is the great part about hunting the various phases of the moon? You know what they will be months in advance.
What is the bad part? Unless you get at least a couple of the top mature buck movement triggers to take place at the same time as a good moon phase, you may find that you have little to no movement trigger at all. I like to view quality moon phase opportunities as a compliment to the heavy influences of mature buck movement, instead of one of the heavy influences by itself. The moon is great to sit in your employer's office during January and plan your vacation time around, but unfortunately quality hunting experiences can't be defined that far in advance. Instead, keep an eye on the forecast and neighboring hunter activity to narrow down specific days to be in the woods, and let the moon be a tie breaker if you can't hunt them all.
What is the best way to experience the annual whitetail rut to it's fullest? By getting as many of the top 5 mature buck movement triggers to take place at one time as possible.
*Make sure to check out my whitetail book series to help you find public or private land mature bucks this Fall, including "Whitetail Success By Design" and "Food Plot Success By Design"
The rut is a great time to hunt, but hitting the rut too hard with hunting activity can cause your land to burn hot and flame out qquickly, leaving you with very low value sit opportunities by the end of the 2-3 week period.
By focusing on high quality days both inside and outside of the rut, you can discover a seasonal full of exceptional days for you to take advantage of. In fact, you may find that some of the days outside of the rut -triggered by wind, snow, rain, hunters or temperatures- will rival or even beat some of the best days that the rut has to offer. Best of all your land and hunting opportunities will not be burned out by the intensity of the rut. By following the rollercoaster of changing mature buck movement triggers throughout the entire season, you can learn to not be held hostage by the whims of the annual whitetail rut.