All-day sits are like catching six-pound smallmouth, or shooting 300-pound black bears. Everyone says they do it, but few rarely do. I’m surrounded by folks who identify as hardcore whitetail hunters, and by most accounts, they are. Yet, most of them don’t pull a single dark-to-dark sit during the rut on any given year.
You know what? They still kill bucks. A lot of them kill great bucks.
The moral of the story is the least surprising part of this article—you don’t need to sit all day to kill a buck during the rut. There are plenty of caped-out bucks headed to the taxidermist shops right now, that offer incontrovertible evidence of this fact.
That doesn’t quite cover a different-but-related question though, which is, should you sit all day during the rut?
Last fall, while filming our first season of One Week In November, I killed a Wisconsin buck at 1 in the afternoon. When my cameraman and I climbed into the set that morning, I knew that we were going to sit all day. The conditions were right, the deer movement was consistent, and it just felt like a much better option than leaving for lunch.
That hunch, intuition, or whatever you want to call it, kept us in the stand when the sun was at its highest point. It kept us hunting when a lot of other hunters weren’t. And honestly, I wasn’t even surprised to look up the ridge and see a solid eight-pointer working his way toward us during the lunch shift.
Now, have I killed more bucks at noon than early morning or late afternoon? Nope, not even close. But some bucks, on some days during the rut, are highly vulnerable during the midday.
Time In Stand Matters
I’ll never forget about 10 years ago, a buddy and I were filming in Wisconsin. We slipped into a setup I had that was positioned on an oak ridge over a community scrape. We didn’t see a thing all morning, so we bailed. A few weeks later, I checked a camera on that scrape. I’m sure you can guess what showed up shortly after we left.
The truth about all of this is that time on stand matters, a lot.
Out of curiosity, I asked Mark Kenyon how many all-day sits he puts in during the rut, and he said, “usually about two weeks. From November 1st through the 14th, I try to do as many as I can.”
I’m on a pretty similar program. Now, you might think that it’s easier for two guys in the hunting industry to justify sitting all day, and you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s also worth noting that no matter what you do for a living, you probably have limited time to be on stand in November.
Just about everyone does. The big question then, is to ask why would you carve out the midday hours and not be in the woods given that your time is limited during the best part of the season?
If you can’t stomach the thought of an all-day sit, there are a few tricks you can use to stay in the game without staying on stand. You could do what Kenyon often does, which is to switch locations in the middle of the day. That breaks up the hours and lets you stretch your legs, and see some fresh woods.
I do this often, too. Usually it’s either planned or forced upon me by the wind. Either way, I’ll sit until about noon, and then still-hunt my way to my second setup. This is a great way to recharge the batteries and stay focused.
It’s also important to note that you won’t sit all day if you don’t believe your spot will produce. A field-edge stand in a lot of places isn’t going to cut it. The stand you have sat 12 times this season and haven’t seen a single buck bigger than a forky probably won’t cut it either—consider that location burned.
An understanding of terrain traps, pinch points, and funnels is key to getting into a spot that will give you all-day confidence. The same goes for a well-understood doe bedding area. One that you can set up downwind of, in the cover, and wait out a buck.
There are just some components of a successful all-day sit that can’t be ignored. Take care of them and maximize your time in the woods. If you do, you’ll realize that you don’t have to do dark-to-dark sits to kill a buck during the rut—but you should.