It is fairly common knowledge that the best time to harvest a whitetail deer is during the rutting season. This is because the bucks tend to lower their guard when they are trying to reproduce. This becomes then the best time to go out trophy whitetail deer hunting.
The rutting season begins with the bucks making scrape marks just under a limit of a tree all over their patch of the woods. It is essentially a scratch in the ground that will be noticed by other bucks in the same area. They do this to start establishing who the alpha male is. Once the first deer has left his scent by the scrape (by rubbing his nose on it), other bucks will come along and start making the scrape bigger and leaving their scent there too.
So naturally, if you find a large scrape mark you'd think it would be a great place to set up a stand and wait for the next big buck to come along. Unfortunately the deer tend to only make and check these areas at night. This is a shame, but it's the most common habit.
As the season progresses the bucks will start to strengthen their neck muscles by rubbing their antlers against trees and bushes. This also serves to remove the velvet from their antlers, getting them ready for any potential challenges. Other whitetail bucks will see these signs, and also around this time they start to urinate in the marks. This becomes probably the best time to be out hunting for whitetail bucks as now their guard is down; they're concentrated on finding does rather than worried about predators.
The bucks will continue to pee in scrape marks and leave their scent around until a female pees in the scrape, which lets the dominant male to know she is ready to mate. He will then check on these marks regularly. It's usually a good idea to be out hunting for longer once the rutting season begins – as soon as you start to notice scrape marks around the place. This will increase your chances of finding a great big trophy while his guard is down. A good way to know if the rut is in progress is to check the back legs of a buck. He has tarsal glands there (which he pees on) also referred to as hawks, and they go black during the rutting season.
The primary reason why the rutting season is the best time for hunting is because the bucks are distracted. They are focused primarily on finding a female and contesting with each other, giving you a much greater chance than at other times of year.
If you want to maximize your chances of harvesting a trophy class buck this season, you want to be out in the field as long as you can. Also, keep in mind that if your goal is to take down a big buck – do not shoot the first one you see! It seems obvious, but a lot of hunters get the buck fever and disregard their goal. In many cases this prevails them bagging a mature deer at all, this is because the older and wiser bucks will most likely stay in cover for longer and will be spooked.