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3 Reasons the Late Rut is the Best Time to Hunt

The late rut offers some unique opportunities for the deer hunter still looking to fill a tag.

We all love harvesting those big, mature bucks during the rut. Seeing rut activity can make the hair standup on the back of even the most seasoned hunter's neck. But we don't always close the deal in those early parts of November. If you're still hanging on to a tag, don't lose hope just yet. Here are three reasons that the late rut, or post rut, could be your ideal time to harvest a mature buck.


That's desperation of the deer, not of the deer hunter. With the last remaining signs of the rut, wise bucks know that it may be their last chance for some action. It's not uncommon for bucks to still be cruising bedding areas and feeding areas, looking for that last hot doe. Also, not all does go through the exact same estrus cycles. It could be that there are a few late bloomers that offer enough incentive to keep the boys cruising later in the month, and even into early December.

Mature Bucks are Smart

Of course they are. We all know that. So, why does that help you? Mature bucks get to be that way for one reason: they avoid situations in which their lives might be in danger. Old bucks have spent their entire lives trying to avoid detection. They've used those insticts every day of their lives and have a big body and massive rack to show for it.

A Whitetail deer buck close-up head shot.
A Whitetail deer buck close-up head shot.

Chances are high, then, that they've been able to avoid detection through the brunt of this season as well. Why would it be any different than previous years? As the rut winds down, patience and diligence can be the difference between that deer making it through another season and you having new wall art for your man cave. Stick to the basics and be the hardest-working person in the woods, and you just might be the lucky one to get within bow range of that bruiser.

Hunting Pressure is Reduced

While it may be a bit more unconventional, this is a tried-and-true method for some good hunting action. Often times, bow hunters get first rights to the woods because of the disadvantages of the short-range weapons. A short while later, the woods get flooded with shotgun slugs, rifles, and muzzleloaders. All of that extra traffic through the woods can have an astounding effect on deer. Many will remove themselves to the most secluded, hard-to-reach areas of the woods or return to their safer nocturnal habits.

For that reason, waiting until later in the season, after the woods have quieted back down, can be an unbelievably effective tactic. It's at this point that the deer begin to feel more comfortable and believe it is safe for them to again be out cruising. Being aware of this and capitalizing on the calm that comes after the storm can produce great results for the patient late rut hunter. This technique has been known to work well for everything from midwest whitetails to elk in the Rockies.

Like what you see here? If so, click here to read more great hunting, outdoor, and shooting articles by Reid Vander Veen. Also, check him out on Twitter @ReidVanderVeen and on Instagram.


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3 Reasons the Late Rut is the Best Time to Hunt