What is the Second Rut?
The first of December marks the beginning of what some people like to call the “Second Rut”. This phase usually lasts about two weeks and is a bit more difficult to hunt. The second rut occurs if there are does who didn’t mate during the first rutting season. This causes them to go into a second estrous cycle. The biggest distinction in buck behavior between the first and second ruts is aggressiveness and intensity. Most bucks are tired and worn out from chasing all that tail during the first rut and would rather prepare for winter. Although hunting during this stage is more difficult, it’s not impossible!
What You’ll See During This Phase:
During the post-rut stage we saw that breeding died down and bucks were not nearly as active as they were during the rut. Now that the second rut is here, most of the does are bred by now, but there are some that did not breed. These does that were not bred in the first rut season will begin cycling through estrus again. Because of this, bucks are back to not thinking clearly. We’ll start to see them making mistakes just like before. Mostly mature bucks will be prowling for does that are returning to estrus, but the chaos and buck movement that define the peak rut will be significantly less.
Tips for Hunting the Second Rut:
Because buck behavior is more reserved in the second rut, deer hunting during this time is greatly impacted. Rather than chasing all day, mature bucks will limit their mobility to short periods of time. It’s common for bucks to revisit old scrapes during the second rut. Location also plays a significant role on when bucks will be out. Bucks on public land will likely stay nocturnal whereas you’re more likely to find unpressured bucks out during the day.
- Find Food Sources
Deer food sources will be your key to success during the second rut. Bucks have likely lost a significant amount of weight from chasing does and are looking to put on a few pounds of feed for the winter. Does have also likely dropped a few LBs from being chased during the rut. Because of this, both bucks and does will be found around food sources, and that’s exactly where you’ll want to be. Estrous does found around late season food sources will increase the amount of bucks hanging around. If you can find the does, bucks will not be far.
- Look for Fresh Rut Signs
Finding buck scrapes and rubs is also a key factor in the second rut. Because bucks are likely going to visit old scrapes, here you will be able to see fresh rut scrapes and signs. These signs signify that a buck is still in full-on rut mode.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Call
The dominant bucks are looking for a grand slam before winter, so deer calls such as grunting, rattling, and doe bleats can be highly effective during this phase to draw them in. Check out one of our favorite calls for producing bleats and grunts: Primos Power Buck & Doe Call
- Be READY!
The second rut will come and go in the blink of an eye. Don’t miss it! Ensure you are ready and have everything you need. Bucks will be quickly on the move and only for short periods at a time.
A Second Shot to Fill Your Tag
All in all, hunting the second rut is similar to hunting the late season, but following these hunting tips should help you fill your tag! Good luck. Remember to be on guard and ready at any given moment. Although a bit more tricky, hunting during the second rut is not impossible!