Rut Mistakes

Bucks roam foolishly during the rut as raging hormones drive them to take chances. Fortunately for them, many hunters also seem to lose their heads during this period. Whitetails can't learn from their mistakes, but you can. Here are nine miscues that bowhunters make and how to avoid them.

1 RELYING ON SCRAPES At this point, setting up over scrapes and accompanying rub lines is a low-percentage affair. Once the rut is in full swing, bucks rarely tend to scrapes during daylight hours. Focus on fresh doe sign and travel corridors between feeding and bedding areas.

2 FOLLOWING A ROUTINE Deer are driven by instinct, not by a schedule. Rut-crazy bucks might pass your stand any time of day. Make sure you're there when they do.

3 IGNORING THE LONG HAUL Are you physically able to stay in a stand from first to last light? Take snacks and water with you. Get plenty of rest at home between hunts.

4 BEING INATTENTIVE As any seasoned bowhunter knows, a shot at a quality animal is a precious commodity. The rut is feast or famine. That's why you should stay prepared for a quick shot at all times. Keep your bow in your hands.

5 ARRIVING TOO LATE The woods wake up earlier during the rut. Try to get to your stand an hour sooner than usual and let things settle down around you. Rut-pressured does move in and out of food sources before and after daylight, which will attract bucks.

6 SHOOTING THE BAIT An estrous doe near your stand is the best decoy you have. Let does walk; hopefully they'll troll a buck by your stand later.

7 OVERDOING THE SCENT Dousing tree limbs with sexy doe smells won't bring bucks running. They expect to be teased by the faint scent of does, not overwhelmed by it. Go easy on the doe pee.

8 STAYING IN A TREE Sometimes the best ambush spots are on the ground, such as near an intersection of several trails. The tough part is concealment. Play the wind and use a bowhunting blind.

9 DEPENDING ON FIELDS The smarter move is to stick to more secluded feeding areas that mature does--the ones that really drive the boys wild--frequent. Set up on spots situated near pinches, funnels, bottlenecks or anything else that channels deer to and from such areas.

Warm Air, Unscented All sorts of scent-absorbent hunting clothes are available, but until recently odor-neutralizing camo headgear designed for cold weather has been scarce. PolarWrap and Scent-Lok have partnered to develop a fleece head mask that incorporates scent-blocking ClimaFlex fabric in Mossy Oak Breakup. The Exchanger mask contains a grid of copper fabric at the mouth that captures and stores heat from the breath when the wearer exhales and then warms the air he inhales. Scent-Lok pioneered the use of activated-charcoal fabric to stifle odors. (About $65; available from Cabela's, 800-967-9727, or www.polarwrap.com.)