If you’re waiting until the whitetail rut to hunt, you might be joining a gang looking for an easy buck, but you might also be hunting during the greatest time of hunting pressure during the fall.
September and early fall are a much better option to have the woods to yourself. Much of the reason for the decreased hunting pressure falls on the fact that the majority of hunting seasons are bow-only, and national statistics on hunters support that theory.
Bowhunters currently hit the fields at more than 3 million annually. Numbers for firearm hunters is a bit sketchier, but according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, there are more than 10 million deer hunters, which is more than 90 percent of all hunters out there.
However the math works out, you can see there exponentially fewer bowhunters in the field at any given time. Plus, of those bowhunters, many work and so they have to plan for hunting trips. The payout of the rut lures scores of them to consider the rut for their hunting vacation.
What this means to you and me is less hunting pressure and more opportunity to not only hunt game that’s visible, but possibly even getting on more hunting ground. Landowners might be more open to allowing hunting access in early season before the masses start knocking on their door. By mid-October and especially November, most hunting seasons are in full swing and so is the hunting pressure, and pressure to secure hunting permission. In September that pressure is lacking.
“I see hunters all the time putting off September hunting to take advantage of the rut,” says Art Helin, a bowhunter and land management specialist from southwest Wisconsin. “Several of my neighbors won’t take off extra time from their job for that reason. It works great for me. I don’t have to consider what stand to sit on my property based on where they might be across the fence. They simply aren’t out in September.”
Another benefit to hunting in September is the fact that the fall harvest is rarely in full swing. That means you might be able to get in touch with farmers easier and not bother them like you would later in the fall when they’re busy with fall harvest. Few of us want to be bothered in the middle of our busy working day and harvest is a time of incredible demand on farmers, especially if inclement weather hampers progress.
September might not have the romanticism of rut hunting as bucks run wildly with raging hormones, but it can provide the same high success, if not better. Put a September hunt on your schedule this coming season.