Most hunters agree that finding a spot to arrow a rutting whitetail is as close to catching fish out of a barrel as you'll get. Of course, it still takes a lot of work. Everyone carries the means to find a secret spot right in their pocket, and the best area boils down to using that tool well. The rut is all about placing yourself in a high-odds location and being ready for action. Sometimes a high-odds location is relatively easy to find if you're looking for the right ingredients.
Are you hunting out of state or need a fresh view of your home turf? Check out some of these locations to tag your rutting buck.
Farm country poses some unique opportunities for hunting bucks during the rut. Humans have set their mark on the land no matter how new or old that farm is. Even if a farm isn't managed specifically for giant deer, you can find a way to use the land to work for you.
Low Field Corners
It doesn't matter if the corner is inside or outside. It will be a deer's favorite if it's in a low spot. Thermals play a huge role in how you'll need to hunt those corners.
In the evening, a falling thermal will bring a buck from low terrain directly to that corner to take in all the smells from the field. Sitting on the side of the corner where the sun hits last can help keep that thermal in your favor just long enough to make a shot. Sometimes, even a light cross wind can help carry your scent behind that buck as he's approaching.
Outside Corners on a field shaped like an "L" can be great morning locations if the corner lies between two hills. Bucks will make their way down to that low corner with thermals in their favor. This type of corner is a very good location for bucks to check on scrapes. Position yourself on the high side of this pinch for good rut action.
Think about parallel wooded ridges. At one end of the ridge is an open field that bucks feel uncomfortable in daylight; at the other is a parcel with a lot of hunting pressure. That makes it challenging for a buck to cross from ridge to ridge safely. Yes, deer are prone to use the path of least resistance, and so are people. If it keeps a buck feeling safe, there is a good chance he will go straight down the steep side of a ridge and up the other.
This funnel is a common travel route on many farms, so keep the wind straight in your face. Hunt the sidehill he will use to go up in the morning and the sidehill he will travel down in the evening. That will give you the edge over any thermal pull.
A patch of woods that sticks out into fields often remains because it is too boggy for tilling. Other reasons may include steepness or poor soil quality. Whatever it is, these spots act like staging areas. A buck can feel hidden longer in this pinch point as he enters the field. Set up inside the peninsula or on the ground adjacent to the end for an in-range shot.
There is a reason for the luring nature of hunting in the hills. The mountain, and its association with large tracts of unbroken timber, is the perfect home for big woods bucks. When you encounter a big buck in a place like this or capture him on trail camera, there's nothing quite like it. The rut in hill country is intense, and bucks can chase after a doe for miles before he takes a break. That often brings a few other eligible bachelors in a mountain buck parade. Hopefully, you've had time to hand-select your rut funnels during in person scouting sessions. If not, the following pinches and funnels in hill country can be a quick study and might help you this season!
The Turkey Foot
Think about the impression a turkey track makes in the mud. The track marks the valleys, and the soil between the toes makes ridge points. Others have also called this terrain feature a crow's foot or a thermal hub, but they are all the same.
They usually form when a ridge bends or a few hills come together. But they can also form randomly on the side of a ridge and be a little more discrete. Bucks love to walk across these points to stay hidden during the rut, as they often offer the best cover, bedding, and safe travel in the same place.
Wind can be tricky in these spots because all the obstacles can cause swirling wind. You will need to experiment to find what winds will work for a hunt.
Focus on hunting crossing trails. Rutting bucks will be prone to using heavily used trails in this type of terrain because it's fast. Following a scent trail of a hot doe usually means that a big buck will be distracted when he passes your location.
I preach ditch crossings for any part of the season. But it's for a good reason! Ditch and creek crossings are responsible for narrowing deer movement the most.
Find a hot one, and you can have huge gains with thermals. Where ever there is water, there is probably good browse nearby. That browse attracts the does that will bring in the bucks, which is a win-win where I'm from! Anytime you find narrowed movement in a rut setting, you're in for a real treat.
Writing off flats as night time zones is a mistake during the rut. Doe family groups hitting the last remaining acorns are often the first harassed by bucks in the morning hours. Be ready; the action is usually hot and fast in a spot like this!
Winds are generally stable on a flat, so following the reported weather will probably pan out fine. To narrow the direction of deer movement, hunting a scrape line that crosses the flat will help you hunt it correctly.
Honorable Mention: Ridge Saddles
Saddles have gotten a bad reputation in the last couple of years. They used to be excellent spots to hunt, but now it's hard to find one that doesn't have a treestand or two.
Deer still use saddles, but most of the time, the movement is nocturnal. A saddle is like an old fishing lure called a jitterbug. It's an oldie but goodie. They still have a high potential to produce big bucks.
Here's what you need to know to hunt one.
1. Hunt undefined or shallow saddles. Even the shallowest depression keeps a buck feeling hidden.
2. Pre-scout for human sign before you hunt one.
3. Wait to hunt saddles after the peak rut when they are less likely to see
The whitetail rut is a good time to get lucky in the woods. But the more you focus on high-odds locations, the better your chances of making your own luck.
Author: Aaron Hepler, Exodus Blackhats team member.