I wrote a post about a week ago about hunting the rut and the general overview of the rut phases. After being in the field the last week I have noticed a few key indicators that the pre-rut phase is upon us.
Key indicators I have found this past week to give me hope that the greatest time on earth is upon us were bucks traveling rub lines, fresh scrapes, and bucks sparing.
Here are some tips for hunting the pre-rut phase and if you have more, please add a comment and I will gladly add it to the list of tips.
Rub Lines and Scrapes
Bucks are becoming individuals this time of year and as they break away from their bachelor groups, they also define their location and travel lines by leaving behind rubs on trees and scrapes on the ground. This only lasts a week to three weeks so scout quickly and set up about 10 - 15 yards off the line.
As I witnessed two young bucks a month ago sparing I knew that the pre-rut is close but young bucks are like young boys in the school yard, they will spare for fun. This last week, I watched a mid-sized 2 year old 8 pointer spare with another 2 - 3 year old 8 pointer. This is a key indicator that more mature bucks are starting to feel the need to determine dominance.
Small bucks running does
You will start to see smaller bucks running does during the pre-rut. The noise in the woods from these small chases may keep mature bucks bedded down briefly, but at some point the big boys have to get up and play as well. Hunt the ridge lines as the smart mature bucks will spectate these chases and eventually start to take over.