The top rut stand locations all have one thing in common and it may not be what you think! While food sources, bedding areas, staging areas, cruising funnels and waterholes can all be a great spot to tag a cruising buck during the rut, they will never a be a top spot if your hunting pressure has not been managed.
Would you like to sit in a poor cover treestand during the rut, that is in the perfect spot however, you just can't stand the thought of the potential for spooking deer? Then make sure to not only follow the top 5 treestand locations, but also pay quite a bit attention to the "weeks of treestand forgiveness".
TOP 5 RUT TREESTAND HOTSPOTS
While even the best potential stand locations are only as good as the level of your hunting pressure management practices, there are several spots that I find are consistent producers during every whitetail rut, no matter where I have hunted. Each stand setup has a given time of day and even time of the whitetail rut, to make sure that you capture the optimum amount of potential for each sit. Here are my top 5 whitetail rut treestand hotspots:
1. Backside of Bedding Stand Locations
Using a backdoor entrance that goes well around food sources and travel corridors, it is hard to beat a downwind stand location during the rut, on the backside of a bedding area!
Timing: All rut, morning to mid-day only.
2. Bedding Staging Area Stands
A Bedding Staging Area is the location that mature bucks tend to hang up and rub, scrape and socialize in, before entering or after exiting, their bedding areas. I have experienced that these areas are within 100-150 yards of a mature bucks daytime hideout, and still 200-400 yards from his favorite afternoon food source. Over 1/2 of of my top 25 bucks have been shot in a bedding staging area.
Timing: All rut, morning, mid-day and evening.
3. Between Bedding Areas Stand Setups
It doesn't matter if it is a big buck bedding area, two doe bedding areas or one of each, setting up a rut cruising treestand on a well-defined funnel between bedding areas, is very hard to beat! If the funnel is tight enough (or if you can confine the funnel through habitat cuttings), then often you can setup two stand locations for opposite wind combos.
Timing: All rut, morning only unless the movement is on the way to afternoon food sources.
4. Parallel Edge V Cruising Treestands
In hill country, finding a rut stand located on a bench that parallels a field edge, with a steep draw/ditch below the bench and two points that extend away from the field to form a V with the bench - can be an incredible set up! Also, in flat-land regions, creating the same V and parallel corridor setup can easily be accomplished with a chainsaw and a little elbow grease.
Timing: All rut, morning, mid-day and evening. However, be cautious of entering during the pre-dawn hours! This is often the perfect scenerio to make sure the field has cleared of deer after daybreak, and then heading straight to the stand to hunt mature bucks that may be paralleling the field edges while checking out perpendicular doe trails.
5. Afternoon Bottleneck Rut Ambushes
Hunting a single trail to a food source from a bedding area isn't a bad idea. However, when the lay of the land, habitat improvements, natural habitat or topography forms to converge multiple trails to one, as deer head to a distant food source, make sure to hang a rut stand! I encourage you to only use these archery stand locations if they meet at least 50-75 yards from the food source, to make sure not to spook out the food source.
Timing: Evening only. This is a great rut stand to avoid the temptation of a morning entrance, when deer are typically in this very spot, as they nightime bed under the cover of darkness.
WEEKS OF RUT TREESTAND FORGIVENESS
The perfect whitetail rut stand setup is not so perfect if you have used it multiple times before the rut even begins. However, the good news is that I have experience a phenomenon that I refer to as, "weeks of forgiveness". Even highly invasive hunting efforts seem to be cured within 3 weeks. The only problem? Most hunters hunt every 2 to 3 weeks during the season or more, so they never get to experience the true level of forgiveness that a deer herd can apply to a given stand location. How can you shoot more deer from the couch? By allowing enough time to pass that not only do the deer forgive your levels of intrusion for various stand locations that need it, but so that the deer begin to recognize your low impact efforts compared to the high impact intrusions of your neighbors.
What do the top rut stand locations have in common? They haven't been pressured. Whether you are applying the weeks of needed forgiveness or just simply letting a particular rut stand lie in wait for the perfect timing, managing your hunting pressure is the #1 factor for making the perfect rut stand, actually perfect.