How to Pull Off an 'Almost' All-Day Rut Hunt

How to Pull Off an 'Almost' All-Day Rut Hunt

I wasn't a math major, but I can figure out addition and subtraction when it comes to hunting. There are 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 30 days in November. Of that time, legal hunting hours make up 45% of the month. Factor in the days that aren't available to hunt because of work, family obligations, or other distractions, and you start to see just how limited time really is.

I could go back and calculate the number of hours spent in the woods for every buck I've ever shot. For the sake of this example, let's just say it took an average of 40 hours of hunting time in November to kill a buck. Now let's pretend that I'll hunt from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. two days a week. That averages 14 hours of hunting per weekend. Given our hypothetical timeline, it should take three weekends to kill a buck. That's cutting it pretty close and, remember, that's an estimate for one deer. My goal is to make the most of November and maybe even tag multiple whitetails in multiple states.

The solution is simple: The more hours I spend in the woods, the higher my success is. All-day sits aren't a new concept, and there’s no denying their effectiveness in November when the rut is rocking. They’re also one of those things that is much easier to talk about than to execute.

I get bored easily. Yes, even when hunting. November gets me antsy. I know my best opportunities are right now and that window doesn’t stay open long. When I'm not seeing deer, I see that opportunity slipping away. It makes it hard for me to stay put in a location. It makes me want to force the issue and bounce around. That almost always results in time lost and less-than-effective effort.

The rut isn't about sustained periods of action. It's often hours of inaction interrupted my moments of chaos. The magic about November is that those moments can come literally at any time of the day. Being in the woods every minute of daylight maximizes my time and opportunity, but it’s just not my style. Here's how I've adapted and adopted the “almost” all-day sit.

Set an Alarm I'll be in my stand about 45 minutes before legal shooting light and will have a solid timeline in place—a timeline that can only be extended, not shortened. No excuses.

I've seen plenty of midday movement during the rut, but it is never consistent. I know from experience that once 10 a.m. hits, the next few hours could be very slow. That’s exactly why most hunters leave the woods by lunchtime.

To keep myself in the game and motivated, I set a hard deadline of 1:30 p.m. I cannot leave prior to that time. If I'm seeing deer activity or there’s a reason for me to stay longer, I can extend the timeline but not shorten it. It’s not easy for me to do, but I have conditioned myself to make it to that midday reset, like how you’ll watch the clock for when it’s breaktime at work.

A Quick Reset At 1:30 p.m., I'll get out of my tree and head for my truck. The goal here is to take a break and reset. I try to make sure I have something I look forward to eating at the truck. There's nothing wrong with the standard cold sandwich, but it's the rut. I like to break out warm foods and add to the “special” feel of the day. Eating a basic granola bar at my pickup during the rut would be like eating McDonald’s on Thanksgiving or ramen on your birthday. Treating this meal like an event helps me be a better hunter on both sides of the break.

If it's cold, I warm up in the truck and dry gloves, socks, or whatever I can get on the dashboard vents. Often I'll throw on a different sweatshirt, maybe change jackets, swap socks—anything to make me feel more comfortable for the second leg of the hunt.

I'll be back in a tree no later than 3 p.m., but have also managed to make it through the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. timeframe, which is when I’ve seen the majority of midday cruising.

Change of Scenery If I'm hunting an area that's big enough to accommodate multiple stand locations, this is an ideal setup for an almost all-day outing. Changing locations provides a change of scenery and that alone can generate enough anticipation and excitement to stick it out for the long haul. Sometimes I’ll hunt one stand until about 10 a.m., then jump down and hustle to a second set until 1:30 p.m.

Other times I’ll pair the midday break with a location change. Again, the goal is to spend as much time in the woods as possible in November. Burnout is real. Burnout happens to me much more quickly when I feel optimism fading. I know more hours on stands means higher odds of success. An almost-all day sit helps me do exactly that.

Feature image via Captured Creative.

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