Sneak-Up Skills to Close the Distance on Rutting Bucks

Sneak-Up Skills to Close the Distance on Rutting Bucks

Author: Game and Fish Magazine
Published: November 29, 2022

“Get spitting-distance close to a rutting buck by using these five tricks.

Things change dynamically during the whitetail rut. Bucks you’ve never seen before turn up and might spend most of the day searching for hot does. It’s when you learn for certain whether your stands are in the right places. For most of us, it’s a familiar scenario. We see a great buck from a stand, but he’s well out of range because normal travel patterns have gone out the window. That’s why a spot-and-stalk approach might be the best way—or maybe the only way—to get a shot at a trophy buck this season.

Of course, spotting a buck is a lot easier than stalking one, but it can be done successfully. When all the hunting stars align, spot-and-stalk can be downright foolproof. The problem for a hunter is knowing when all the conditions are right and completing a successful stalk without getting busted. Here are a few things to consider.


If you’re hunting hilly country in the morning or early afternoon and see a shooter, approach it from uphill if possible. Warming thermals carry scent up, which is why bucks often walk ridgelines during the rut to catch the scent of does below.

When it’s time to check a food plot to see if Mr. Big has arrived, the best approach for a hunter is to work their way slowly toward the targeted area from the downwind side. Take advantage of any ambient air movement that rustles the trees or undergrowth.

If you spot a decent buck, stop and go toward him as the wind or breeze rises and falls. If possible, move when the buck has his head down or is turned away. Freeze whenever he turns toward you. If the plot is ringed with a brushy mixture of high weeds, saplings and bushes, use it for cover and proceed slowly and quietly.


Rainy, stormy weather is hard to beat for spot-and-stalk. A few years ago, I was hunting from a ladder stand with a slug gun when an afternoon thunderstorm came up. The occasional lightning and hard rain was enough to convince me that it was time to go. I climbed down from the stand and slowly made my way back toward my truck, which was parked on the far side of a food plot.

As I got near the field, I slowed down and started sneaking. Shortly thereafter, I saw a decent 8-point buck feeding. Because it was raining so hard and the wind was blowing a gale toward me, the stalking part was easy. I was within 50 yards of the feeding deer when I put the scope’s crosshairs on his neck and squeezed off a shot. As unappealing as it might seem, any type of weather that covers a hunter’s movements and sounds is advantageous for a stalk.”

To read the full article from Game and Fish Magazine, click here.

Photo Credit: Original Author

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