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  • Writer's pictureCanyon Clark

Patterning Bucks During the Rut

Many hunters will tell you that bucks can't be patterned once the rut begins in early November. That isn't necessarily the case though. While buck movements do tend to shift and can become more random, it's not impossible to predict where they will be most of the time.

Types of Patterns

I think the contradiction comes from those hunters only focusing on one type of pattern. Most people who tell you that you can't pattern a rutting buck are only thinking about early-season patterns.

There are also rut patterns that deer, especially mature bucks, will follow as well. Studies have shown that all deer tend to go on excursions at an increased rate during the rut. But, on average, they return to their home range within 16 hours.

An article on excursions may come at a later date. It's a fascinating subject in its own right. But for now, I want to focus on the latter part of that last statement.

Home Ranges

A buck's home range is the key to patterning him during the rut. If you don't know what a home range is, think of it as the general area where a buck spends most of his time. They usually change from summer to fall, but once they've established their fall range, it typically does not shift until the spring.

This remains true even during the rut. A buck's movements may become more sporadic, but they still tend to frequent the same locations. That's why knowing a buck's home range is so valuable.

How to Use This Info

If you can nail down where he is spending his time, you also know where to spend yours. You don't have to be overly aggressive either. Especially during the rut. You can hunt on the fringes of your target buck's range and still have consistent sightings.

Unlike during the early season, he's now going to use more of his home range on a daily basis as

he cruises for does. That's ultimately what makes him more visible during the rut.

Patience is still key. Despite the seemingly fleeting nature of the rut, the fact remains that it's a marathon and not a sprint. If you run your buck off you won't have the chance to kill him another day. Conversely, if you don't see him today, he's likely still out there to kill another day.


Though the rut can be random, it's still predictable enough to be smart about the way you hunt it. Don't give up on harvesting a buck on a pattern just because the calendar has flipped to November.

Use the information you've gathered about where a buck is living to give yourself the upper hand.

Even if you don't see him for a couple of days, your best odds are still being smart and hunting his normal home range. If you get frustrated or impatient and decide to throw caution to the wind by diving deep into his core area or trying to chase him on an excursion, you'll likely do more harm than good.

As always, stay safe, hunt smart, and good luck!


Featured Image: Canyon Clark

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