Tips for deer hunting during the late Louisiana rut (2023)

Tips for deer hunting during the late Louisiana rut (1)

The rut extends through December and even into February in much of the state. Here's how you can use this fact to kill more money.

Gail "Bucky" McDavid of Carencro enjoys hunting during Louisiana's various rutting seasons.

He is so excited that McDavid will be chasing the Area 3 early rut in the Clear Creek Wildlife Management Area in October and November and then following the rut into January by making frequent trips to Thistlethwaite WMA.

And he learned a lot from the rut hunt.

Last January 6th, McDavid picked a stand deep inside Thistlethwaite WMA.

"I've been working hard for two years to find a way to get in away from the pressure of the hunt," he said. "That was the approach I needed, a way to build downwind from where the rutting activity was occurring."

(Video) Whitetail Deer Map Scouting | Louisiana | E-Scout Series

McDavid knew how cautious Thistlethwaite big bucks could get. He's taken a 250-pound 10-pointer there, as well as several 8-pointers, over the years.

"The deer sign I found was certainly in a natural area where females were moving from bedding to foraging," he said. "There was a mast ridge on one side and an extensive palmetto thicket on the other."

It was the transition area that drew the hunter's attention - a densely overgrown area where he expected a buck to move from the brood back to his litter area.

"I positioned myself between the top of the mast and the bedding area downwind of the thicket," said the hunter.

At 7:30 a.m., McDavid heard distinct grunts and rustles in the feed area behind his booth.

"For a while I could hear bucks chasing through the palm trees about 80 yards behind my booth," he said.

After an hour had passed, the hunter said the area had suddenly gone quiet.

"I looked ahead and found a good buck slipping in front of me in the thicket," said McDavid. "He was on his way to the bed area."

From where he stood, the hunter estimated the buck at 30 yards.

When an opening through the palmettos released a vital shot, McDavid pulled the trigger on his .30-06. The buck fell on the shot.

A little later the hunter stood there and watched a 7-pointer. It had 23 1/4 and 24 inch main beams draped by 17 1/4 inches of air. It would later weigh 205 pounds at the weigh station.

(Video) How To Hunt The Whitetail Rut - Right Now!

It was one of the many quality whitetails caught at Thistlethwaite WMA year after year.

Stay with them in January

Largely due to the late rutting season, Louisiana bowhunters can enjoy a very long season, ending February 15 in Area 6 and January 31 in Areas 1, 2, 4, and 5.

Gordon Smith of West Monroe enjoys bowhunting on some prime private properties in Union Parish in January. He has made bowhunting his life's work as the designer, manufacturer and marketer of the Bowshooter Station (

"In January I will be focusing my efforts on finding the latest scars to get an idea that the bucks in the area are still looking for mates," Smith said.

He will chase "trailing bucks" moving from foraging and rutting areas to litter areas.

"As long as I see fresh scratches and rubs in January, I'll be using attractants and setting up a camera," Smith said. "When I see females roaming the area, I know a buck will show up."

Like most bowhunters, Smith does not hunt stands, instead hunting deer.

"I build my own ladder stands in 4-foot sections where they can be extended," he said. “That way I have identical gear that can be quickly moved in segments to where the deer activity is happening.

"I'll stack them quickly and hunt against the wind."

(Video) 5 Tips for Public Land Rut Hunting

Unlike most public lands where deer are pressured, Smith has had success using call tactics on his private turf. He will rattle and grunt on a tube. He also uses the can successfully.

Public lands where Bowhunters were very successful in January include all of the following:

Big Lake WMA; Buckhorn WMA; Tensas River NWR; Bayou Cocodrie NWR; Lake Ophelia NWR; Red River/Three Rivers WMAs; the Sherburne Complex; the Indian bayou area; Distelthwaite WMA; and Attakapa's WMA.

It is important to note that there are many rutting grounds along the Mississippi River to the east where high profile bucks have been bow caught in the communities of East Carroll, Madison and Tensas.

A quick review of the 2011-12 Big Buck Recognition List shows that 22 of the 72 recognized bucks were taken in January - one of them in February. That's about 30 percent of the biggest dollars the state took in last season.

This list is available on the LDWF website at

When about a third of Louisiana's biggest bucks are caught in January, that's reason enough to visit the Delta areas, where deer activity is high but hunting pressure can be low — especially during late archery season when the NFL playoffs take place.

Of rutting bucks and signposts

McDavid and Smith provide information on signpost activity (scratching and chafing) as well as signature feeding in an area during the rut.

However, McDavid said these are just indications that deer are in an area.

(Video) Conquer the Frustrating Post Rut with These Hunting Tips

"Most scratches are done at night," McDavid said. "And I don't chase scars during the height of the rut.

"Instead, I find transitional areas where bucks move away from encountering females, in foraging areas, dense areas that allow bucks to find cover.

"I'll find them in daylight as they roam these parts. The fresh scrapes and abrasions are maybe 80 yards away but they tell me bucks frequent the females in the area.”

Regarding the size of the trees that bucks rub, deer study leader Durham said there is some evidence to support some variation.

"We have evidence that bucks with larger antlers hook larger trees, but smaller trees can be used by young bucks as well as large bucks," Durham said.

According to the leader of the deer study, the size of the girth of a scratch was not associated with larger or smaller bucks.

Bucks also engage in "tree licking" activities such as B. licking and rubbing thin branches and often breaking branch tips over scrapes with their antlers and forehead.

"Deer use the preorbital gland on the inside of the eye as a scent marker on branches," Durham explained. "Another scent marker is used in the middle of the forehead."

Very rarely do hunters see a lick tree, where a variety of scratches and branches are used as a means of communication.

The author observed only one in his lifetime on Willow Point Island in East Carroll Township.

This "group" tree licking was explained as a signal to other deer in the area that a new buck was advancing, a guide/hunter on the island with a deep understanding of deer behavior having spent a lifetime hunting deer and other hunters has led .

(Video) DOMINATE the Rut With These Rut Hunting Tips!

But most importantly, the peak of the rut has more to do with the receptivity of the hind and the presence of a group of hinds in an area. If a deer does not go into heat during the peak of the rut, it will go into heat 28 days later - hence the definition of secondary rut.

And bucks have been known to prey on such females, no matter what headgear (or lack thereof) they wear. Velvet buck are known to hunt even in August in various parts of Area 3 where the early rut occurs.


How do you hunt bucks in late rut? ›

Target food sources at dawn and dusk, similar to pre-rut. Walk through the woods and get deer up and moving from bedding areas. Set up your stand near good food sources or bedding areas. Use a supplemental feed/deer attractant like Apple or Cherry Bomb to draw deer to your site.

What time of day are the biggest bucks killed during rut? ›

It also clearly suggests that hunters should get into the woods early—i.e., before dawn—and stay at least until 11:00 a.m. for their best chance of killing a mature buck during the rut.

How do you attract big bucks in late season? ›

Dominant bucks especially need to hit food sources as much as possible to re-build their body mass and fat supply that was spent during the rut. In some cases, you can even see mature bucks feeding in crop fields or food plots during daylight hours. Standing corn and soybeans are both extremely attractive to deer.

Is it better to hunt late season deer in the morning or evening? ›

and the best time of day to hunt late season deer is definitely the evening. After the rut, bucks are weary and need food, and the colder weather tends to get them on their feet earlier in the afternoons.

Where do big bucks go during the rut? ›

In farm country, rutting bucks will take advantage of any bit of cover as they move about the countryside. Irrigation ditches, hedgerows, fence lines and creek beds immediately come to mind. The hottest ambush point is the untillable land found at the intersection of two, three or even four property lines.

Where do big bucks go after the rut? ›

That's why when mature bucks sense the estrus cycle is over, they go underground to conserve the little body mass they have left. They also begin the hunt for the highest quality of food near good cover to assist in physical recovery, especially in the northern half of their range.

How far will a buck roam during rut? ›

Mature Buck Travels 200 Miles, 8 1/2 Miles Per Day During Rut.

At what temperature do deer move the most? ›

A large drop in temperatures of 10-20 degrees F can also greatly increase deer activity.
  • Large temperature swings will often boost deer activity, especially if the temperature begins rapidly dropping. ( ...
  • Freezing rain and sleet in the woods. (
Nov 17, 2021

How big of an area will a buck cover during rut? ›

The important point to remember is this: When you're chasing a mature buck, you need to understand that his home range is going to be about 640 acres (a square mile) during all times outside the rut. During the rut, he could be roaming as much as 5,000 acres. His core area is going to be his safety zone.

Should you hunt mornings late season? ›

Quality late season morning hunts are extremely rare! But, you are in luck because evening opportunities during the late season feature some of the best hunting all season long. Food and cover sources have been drastically reduced, whitetails are hungry and if you build it, they will come.

Can you grunt for Bucks late season? ›

Late season deer calling can be a game changer. Grunts, snorts, bleats and wheezes are all part of a deer's vocabulary. Laying down a few grunts followed by a snort or two can get a big late season buck's attention. He may think another deer is cutting in on his territory.

What is the best deer attractant for late season? ›

Vast swaths of standing corn and soybeans are very inviting for deer and almost everyone can agree they are some of the best late season deer food sources where available. Whitetails can bed and feed in the corn, or hop over to the next field to munch on some soybeans.

What are the best times to hunt late season? ›

The best time to hunt during the late season is during the afternoon and evening when the day is at its warmest. You can most certainly hunt the morning hours but deer tend to bed for the day before the sunrises during the winter months.

At what temp will a deer spoil overnight? ›

According to Dr. Cutter, when temperatures are above 40 degrees F, bacteria grow rapidly once the deer is dead, and the higher the temperature the faster the growth. “If it's cold weather, and it's a clean shot, you might be able to do fine,” she said.

What is the rut prediction for 2022? ›

For 2022 the signs are pointing to a more classic, intensified rut, where the bulk of does will be bred in a shorter window than in most recent years. That means we'll see more defined high points of scrape visitations and intense lockdowns when bucks are locked on the doe(s) they want to breed.

What time of day are most big bucks shot? ›

It doesn't matter what month of the year you are talking about, pretty much every study out there shows that the time of day bucks are most active is at sunrise and sunset.

Why am I not seeing bucks during rut? ›

It's understandable not seeing much deer activity during the rut. Bucks don't need to move much during the peak of the rut. This is when the highest percentage of does are receptive and bucks don't have to travel far to pair up with a doe. Once with a receptive doe bucks often tend that doe for 24-36 hours.

Do you hunt field edges or woods during rut? ›

During the seeking and chasing phase of the rut, bucks love to run back in the woods (usually about 15 to 30 yards) from the edge of a field (harvested corn is my favorite) as they use their eyes and nose to search for any doe offering even a hint of being near estrous. Often, bucks will cut the corner of the field.

Do rutting bucks move all day? ›

Bucks will be cruising these areas at all hours of the day as they eagerly search for the first estrous does. Deer Behavior: While some mature bucks will stay on your property late in this pre-breeding period, others will start to expand their range.

Do big bucks move in the middle of the day? ›

There will be a mid-day activity period just like always, but deer, especially bucks, can move at all times.

How far can deer smell human scent? ›

ANSWER: Under normal conditions, a deer can smell a human that is not making any attempt to hide its odor at least 1/4 mile away. If the scenting conditions are perfect (humid with a light breeze), it can even be farther. So they are pretty impressive.

What do bucks do late rut? ›

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.

How do you hunt late season nocturnal bucks? ›

7 Tips for Hunting Nocturnal Deer
  1. Locate Core Area. You now know how key a buck's core area is to survival. ...
  2. Know Travel Routes. Deer have preferred travel corridors from bedding areas to food sources. ...
  3. Work with Weather. ...
  4. Control Your Scent. ...
  5. Go in Stealth. ...
  6. Avoid the Crowds. ...
  7. Hunt the Rut.
Oct 13, 2022

How do you get a mature buck during the rut? ›

If you hunt funnels and bedding fringe points during the rut, you will eventually find the mature bucks. If you hunt public land, or even private land, that has a fair amount of hunting pressure, go farther than anyone else is going.

Do bucks go nocturnal post rut? ›

Man's Influence on the Post-Rut

The hunting pressure incurred during September, October, and November cause many bucks to become nocturnal. When formulating a hunting strategy for nocturnal post-rut bucks, it's important to understand that all white-tailed bucks are not the same.


1. 2022 Late Season Whitetail Hunting Strategy
(Hooked 2 Hunt)
2. How To Hunt AFTER The Rut
(Whitetail Habitat Solutions)
3. 3 Tips to hunting south Louisiana's public land deer
(Team Voodoo)
4. Deer Calling Tips | Rattling and Grunting To Bucks
(Whitetail Properties)
5. Louisiana Whitetail Rut Action
(Deer Hunting Cajuns)
6. Late Season Hunting Strategies
(Whitetail Properties)


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