With the whitetail rut dying down in most parts of the country, it’s time to start shifting your hunting strategies for the post-rut.
If you haven’t been successful so far this season, don’t give up just because the famed breeding period for whitetail deer is over. Every year there are some world-class whitetails harvested harvested post-rut as bucks settle down and usually begin returning to a more normal schedule.
So, with your iPhone in hand, let’s take a look at planning your post-rut hunt with the Quiver Hunting App
Identify Your Goals
After a long fall season, the end of the rut is the perfect time to reassess your hunting goals.
If you’ve already filled your buck tag, set a goal to look toward the late season for practicing Quality Deer Management (QDM). Planning for next year’s hunting season doesn’t have to wait until this season is over, and establishing long-term herd management strategies will increase the quality of whitetails you will chase in the future. Or, just use the time to put in some late season scouting to see which of your hit list bucks survived the rut.
If your goal is to fill a late season buck tag, start by analyzing your logged Quiver hunts to remind yourself of when you last saw your target bucks. Has it been a few weeks since you’ve spotted your main hit-lister? If he’s still alive, he may be returning to a similar home range as before the rut. Setting your goals on a particular buck will give you the focus you need to begin assessing your situation and planning a strategy to harvest a hit-list buck.
Assess Your Current Situation
Entering into the post-rut without appearances from the buck you’ve been targeting earlier in the season can take a toll on your confidence. Erratic buck movements during the rut sometimes give the impression that your dream buck has moved to a neighboring property, or even worse, may have already been harvested.
Keep your chin up. If he’s a smart ol’ buck and has evaded you so far this season, there’s a good chance he’s avoided other hunters in your area as well.
When in doubt, hunt smarter. Devise a plan to collect more data because MRI (Most Recent Information) is critical at this point in the season. Scouting trips to your property are valuable as long as you treat them as a hunt. Keep your distance from high travel areas, and be mindful of scent and wind direction so you don’t add unnecessary pressure to the deer. You don’t want to influence the deer movements that you’re attempting to pattern in the first place. Even if you don’t have a gun or bow in hand on these scouting trips, remember to keep track of when and where you see deer in Quiver!
While pre-rut data is an excellent starting point, don’t put all your weight on potentially outdated information. It’s crucial to stay up to date and focus on MRI, but even if your hit-lister’s movements have shifted during the rut, your Quiver logs from those hunts can still provide valuable insights on deer movements, particularly if you take notes on available food sources deer are targeting and bedding locations.
As you assess your late season hunting situation, don’t feel the need to be in the stand whenever possible just because you might get lucky and have a random buck walk past. The late season is not about logging the most hours in the stand as possible. It’s about choosing the most opportune times to hunt, because you increase the risk of influencing deer movements every time you step foot in their habitat.
If you’re unsure about a hunt and you’re passionate about fulfilling your goal of harvesting a mature whitetail in the late season, take the time you’d normally be in your stand and do the proper reconnaissance to get the information you need to find and pattern your trophy.
Collect Your Data
Keeping your focus on MRI isn’t always easy without access to a lot of data, and because of this, it’s important to collect your data from multiple sources. We advocate using the Quiver Hunting App to track your hunts, but don’t hesitate to add more data sources to your arsenal. Visual data is valuable, and spending time in the field can add unnecessary pressure, so including trail cameras as a data collection source can be a game changer.
Pairing the Quiver Hunting Apps’ hunt tracking technology with a trail camera management software like DeerLab can make for an unbeatable combination of data tracking that allows you to be productive whether you’re in the woods or home in bed.
Don’t be greedy with your data! Sharing your information with other hunters is a good strategy because the more of your friends using Quiver and sharing their hunts in your area, the stronger your data will be. Every hunter has a slightly different view on what’s happening in the woods at any given time, so when you combine your ideas, you’ll probably have a better overall picture of your current hunting situation.
Even if you’re located in different counties, other hunters might have insights on changes in food sources or other factors in your region. Being active on state-focused hunting forums can be a surefire way of finding local hunters to connect with. Sharing information can instantly double or triple the amount of MRI you have to make the decisions that will bring home the venison.
Plan Your Hunt
With your MRI consolidated and your target deer patterned, it’s time to plan the hunt. Start by analyzing your data to determine when and where deer should be moving and if necessary, plan to move your treestands or prepare a hang and hunt that will take advantage of their patterns.
Next, play the weather. Use the Quiver Hunting App to compare your deer movement information with the weather and environmental factors. Specifically, key in on changes in temperature, changes in barometric pressure, moon phase to unveil which weather combinations are driving the highest deer movement in your area. If you’re interested in learning more about why these weather factors affect deer movement, read the posts linked above!
Erik Barber's 2015 late season buck
Check out the video of the season-long journey to tag this great buck.
With ideal weather patterns in mind, check the forecasts and identify the days in the near future that show the most promise. Managing your scent profile is crucial even if you’re sporting the top of the line in scent-free gear, and a deer’s nose is hard to fool, so look for days with wind conditions that complement the deer movement patterns you’ve identified.
Remember not to plan too far out! Weather forecasts can be highly variable, and MRI can change daily, so when the factors are right, have your vacation days saved up and be ready hit the woods!
Good luck hunting the Post-Rut and if you’re successful, send us your story to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Want more tips to become a better hunter? Download the Quiver Hunting App today to help you step up your whitetail game. We all know hunting mature whitetails isn’t easy, so let Quiver help you be in the right spot at the right time.
Have a question that you’d like answered? Leave a comment below!