4 Tips for Finding Rut Stands

posted by Aaron Warbritton on 08.11.15

Four Tips to Find Your Rut Stands in August

By Aaron Avestruz


The pre-rut sign of last year is difficult to see -- scrapes are grown over, rubs are faded, and trails the deer used last fall are nearly invisible -- but paying extra attention to detail will help you find what you need. If you can read the little clues nature has left behind and put the pieces of the puzzle together, you might just find your killer rut tree in August.


Hanging stands well before the season and staying out allows you to hunt an undisturbed area in the fall1. Scrape lines can be found by looking for old licking branches. Look closely for old broken tips on the branches, as they will be hard to see in the foliage. Another good indication of a scrape tree is dead leaves hanging off partially broken branches. If one tree has several broken licks, it's a good bet the scrape has been active for several years. Scrape trees are also good signs that the area holds several bucks and the tree is in a high traffic area, at least during the fall. Hanging a camera over these trees beginning in mid-October is a great way to gather an inventory of the bucks in the area. Hunting over these scrapes in late October can also be effective.


2. If you look closely, rubs can be identified as well. The scarring on the bark can be seen for many years and some trees get rubbed every fall. The rubs from last year will be most visible. These, as well as scrapes, are clues as to how bucks travel through an area during the fall.


3. Find and scout bedding areas. Obviously, you don’t want to do this in October because you’ll blow out the deer and ruin your hunting. Shed season and summer are the only times you can safely scout these areas. Note: Look for old rubs and scrapes on the downwind side of the bedding area. These show buck travel routes from past years. Understanding where deer bed is key in figuring out how they move throughout your property.


4. Walk Deer Trails. Scout field edges to find trails coming out of the timber, and follow them back into the bedding areas. By following a trail you can see the bedding area it leads to and how deer travel around the area. This trail may be beaten down in the fall, but if it's a half mile from the bedding area, you may never see the deer during daylight while hunting right on the food source. Note: Trails are especially difficult to spot inside the timber because undergrowth can obscure them. Pay close attention to fence crossings and small terrain funnels like benches, saddles, or ditches. Remember, deer want to take the path of least resistance. Look carefully, and these trails can be spotted.

Note: The ticks and mosquitoes can be pretty bad this time of year. Cabela’s Insect Defense Clothing has a tick repelling chemical called permethrin built into the garment and will keep them off while you’re scouting.  Click here to check it out. 

Don’t be afraid to get out and put the boots to work on your property this summer. Use aerial maps to identify high-odds areas, and do your scouting on the ground to find the best stand trees. Scouting and hanging stands well before the season and staying out allows you to hunt an undisturbed area in the fall. Bow season is just a month away in some states. Buckle up.