by Will Brantley
#1 – Brad Herndon
Years Hunting Whitetails: 42
Biggest Buck: 167-inch nontypical
Favorite Rut Spot: Hardwood-ridge saddle
In the hill country where I hunt in Indiana, the best place to kill a good buck during the rut is the lowest spot along a ridgeline. There may not even be much sign there, but you can bet bucks will use the saddle as a travel corridor when covering ground to find hot does. They’ll cross the ridgeline here because it’s the path of least resistance, but they’ll also cruise past when traveling the length of the ridge. And unlike on the valley floor, you can get a steady wind in a saddle. Set up, sit all day, and a good buck will eventually show.
2 – Greg Meredith**
Years Hunting Whitetails: 27
Biggest Buck: 157 5⁄8-inch typical
Favorite Rut Spot: Doe feeding area
My strategy is simple during the rut: I hunt where the does are. In my area of Kentucky that usually means a travel corridor leading into a cropfield where does feed. My favorite spot is a creekbottom that funnels into a beanfield. In the morning, I sit on a ridge above the creek, where cruising bucks try to catch the scent of hot does on rising thermals. They can scent-check the whole creek-bottom this way. In the evening, I move down into the creekbottom where bucks scent-check for does on falling air currents, often along a rub line in a draw or a ditch.
3 – Rick White**
Years Hunting Whitetails: 36
Biggest Buck: 184 3⁄8-inch nontypical
Favorite Rut Spot: Over a decoy
Bowhunting during the rut can be tough because deer movements are so unpredictable. Instead of trying to guess exactly where bucks will show, I look for the perfect stand location where I can use a buck decoy and calls to bring deer to me. The tree has to have good cover, has to facilitate a comfortable setup, and has to be on the edge of a field or other opening where bucks can see the decoy from a distance. I place the decoy 15 yards from my stand, either broadside or quartering slightly toward me. Bucks usually approach the fake head-on, giving me a perfect shot.