Skip to main content

Trail Camera Clues That Lead To Rut Hunting Success

To know where you need to be in the rut, re-visit your trail-cam recon from months gone by.

Trail Camera Clues That Lead To Rut Hunting Success

If you were to head into the woods now to drop a few cameras off in anticipation of your rut-cation this month, you’d miss out on a lot. For starters, the predictability of most bucks erodes a little more each day as we move further into November. What was a good staging area pattern in October will be a lost cause now. That field edge stand that was so hot earlier in the year is likely a ghost town or a forky-fest today.

The beauty of the rut is that it can be chaos, but the downside of the rut is that it can be chaos. The action you’re dying to be a part of could be half of a mile away when a single doe’s biological clock strikes just the right time, leaving you with an empty woods and the false belief that it’s just not happening yet.

It is, and to be where you need to be you can use trail cameras now, but also take a long look at all of the digital recon from about the beginning of September until now.

Ranger Rovers

Research has shown that mature bucks tighten up their home ranges as they age. While they may light out across the landscape on an excursion or two during the rut, they most stay where they are most comfortable.


Moultrie-Midday.jpg

This means that if you’ve gotten trail camera images of a buck consistently using a specific area after he went hard-antlered in the beginning of September, you know where he is likely to cruise. If you had the buck all summer long as a velvet loafer, and then he stuck around throughout the fall, that’s even better.


But either way, pore through your photos to see if there is an area a certain buck obviously favored but remember, if your cameras were mostly on field edges or food plots, you might want to set some cameras now in the next available security cover. Bucks will certainly hit the openings for amenable does, but if they experience a decent amount of hunting pressure they may also just scent check those areas while staying in the thick stuff.

Cameras Then, Cameras Now

Hopefully you didn’t hang all of your cameras on food sources, because you’ll want to know what’s going on in the in-cover travel routes on your hunting grounds. A buck that walked through a specific pinch point to reach a nearby alfalfa field in late August might use that same terrain feature to cruise doe bedding areas.

Moultrie-Booner-Buck.jpg

This is because there aren’t as many accidents in nature — or deer behavior — as we think. Bucks travel with a purpose and with the conditions that best favor their survival. The latter gets tamped down some with their short breeding window and the frenzy that accompanies it, but they still seem to intuitively behave in some ways that will keep them safe. That often means they travel known routes that have kept them alive for months, and more likely, years.

Again, take a long look at your trail camera photos from the past couple of months and see if there are any digital bread crumbs leading you to potential ambush sites.


Info Now

With a game plan forming due to past reconnaissance, it’s not wise to pull all of your cameras yet. Where legal, cellular cameras can give you a glimpses into up-the-minute chasing activity. That can be extremely beneficial, for obvious reasons.

Moultrie-Set-up.jpg

Traditional cameras, especially those that feature technology that filter out specific bucks, are a great tool now as well. If you’ve got your hunting grounds covered with a few cameras and the willingness to go mobile with your treestand setups, you’ll never have to focus on dead ground for too long. This means that if that hot doe drags your local bucks away from where you were sure you found the perfect pinch point, a mid-morning camera check can clue you into the best action.

If you’re set up to hunt as soon as you know it’s a good idea, then you can be right back in the action after only missing — at most — a day. That’s one of the best ways to remove a little of the chaos from the rut and return to some semblance of a pattern. And of course, to fill your tag on a bruiser, which is the goal.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg begins the scouting process in Kentucky on his first whitetail hunt of the season.

Better Bow Practice: Pick a Spot When Aiming

Better Bow Practice: Pick a Spot When Aiming

On this edition of "Dead On," Hall-of-Fame bowhunter Randy Ulmer shares advice on picking a spot to aim at when practicing with your bow.

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson spot-and-stalks hogs and whitetails in Texas.

Daytime Bighead Carp Bowfishing

Daytime Bighead Carp Bowfishing

Curt Wells is with members of the Muzzy Bowfishing team as they set their sights on bighead carp during the day in Kentucky.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles


What's a hardcore bowhunter? That's hard for me to define—most bowhunters I've met are10 Best Exercises for the Hardcore Bowhunter How-To

10 Best Exercises for the Hardcore Bowhunter

Dan Staton - June 30, 2016

What's a hardcore bowhunter? That's hard for me to define—most bowhunters I've met are

Chasing predators is great for calming big-game nerves.Tips for Bowhunting Predators Other Game

Tips for Bowhunting Predators

Joe Bell

Chasing predators is great for calming big-game nerves.

Black bear meat is dark and rich, and delicious ground up in this Pâté chaud recipe.Vietnamese Black Bear Pâté Chaud (Meat Pie) Recipe Recipes

Vietnamese Black Bear Pté Chaud (Meat Pie) Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Black bear meat is dark and rich, and delicious ground up in this Pâté chaud recipe.

Inspired by “Buzzwinkle,” a lit up moose in Anchorage, this Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe is sure to be a delicious party on your taste buds with every bite.Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe Recipes

Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Inspired by “Buzzwinkle,” a lit up moose in Anchorage, this Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

November gets all the accolades, October can be a safer bet for consistent success.Why October Is the Perfect Month for Bowhunting Deer Whitetail

Why October Is the Perfect Month for Bowhunting Deer

Timothy G. Kent

November gets all the accolades, October can be a safer bet for consistent success.

Dr. Craig Harper's book explains everything you need to know to make your hunting ground a whitetail haven.A Guide to Better Food & Habitat on Hunting Properties Whitetail

A Guide to Better Food & Habitat on Hunting Properties

C.J. Winand

Dr. Craig Harper's book explains everything you need to know to make your hunting ground a...

Shake things up to stay in the game when you'd rather stay home.How to Beat Bowhunting Burnout Whitetail

How to Beat Bowhunting Burnout

Tony J. Peterson

Shake things up to stay in the game when you'd rather stay home.

Traditional bowhunter Beka Garris creatively continues her pursuit of whitetails.Young Mom Arrows Whitetail with Baby in Tow Whitetail

Young Mom Arrows Whitetail with Baby in Tow

Lynn Burkhead

Traditional bowhunter Beka Garris creatively continues her pursuit of whitetails.

See More Whitetail

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now