The rut is creeping up on you like a trick-or-treater sneaking up on your porch for a candy bar. Are you ready? The first inklings of the rut are beginning to appear in the woods around you right now. Scrapes are showing up along field edges and trails. Rubs are starting to line travel routes, and last week I watched a 3 1/2-year-old buck hounding a doe just for fun.
I just spent a week in the whitetail woods. Whitetail billboards are going up left and right, advertising the home territory of breeding-season bucks. Are you on the lookout for these rut road signs? If not, you might be missing the biggest step toward the ambush of your next buck.
First, begin looking for rubs. Bucks rub here and bucks rub there, but they tend to rub in a fashion that highlights where they spend considerable time lounging, such as a prime bedding areas. Bucks also rub as they travel traditional trails. Keep a lookout for clusters or lines of rubs and use these to pinpoint the perfect location for a treestand or ground blind. While scouting last week I stumbled into a chest-high sanctuary of tall grass in the middle of a woodlot. The small trees in the grassy refuge were in tatters and signaled that bucks were spending lots of time hiding in the grass.
Scrapes, like rubs, show up here and there with the whims of testosterone-charged bucks. Nevertheless, when you find scrapes in regularity along field edges and trails, it means bucks are visiting an area with predictability. Look for trails exhibiting lots of scrapes (and rubs). Scout field edges for series of scrapes and keep an eye open for scrapes that suddenly explode in size, which indicates extensive visits along with primary status.
Last week I didn’t stumble upon any jumbo scrapes, but I did find numerous anticipatory scrapes in the locations noted above. I added a few jumbo mock scrapes to the mix and had activity at most sites overnight using Hunter’s Specialties scent dripper combo kit.
Halloween is approaching and so is the whitetail rut. Put your game face on now to avoid a trick and receive a whitetail trophy treat.