When is the Rut?

Tom Deer

Halloween is this Thursday, which means the opening day of Modern Gun Season is only a couple weekends away. A lot of people are in the woods scouting hoping to find that monster buck. As for me, I’m spending my days hauling corn, checking cams, and bow hunting waiting for the big boys to start chasing the does. All across the state hunters are asking the same question. “When is the Rut?”

I hear people say, “The weather’s not right”, “It’s not cold enough”, I saw a 4 pointer chasing a doe, it’s on”, “They’re not making any sign, it’s still far away”, and many other comments that I’m sure you’ve all heard. According to biologist, the rut is triggered by the amount of light in the day. This is the signal that makes does come into heat and sends the bucks into a frenzy. Our state is great at setting the modern gun opener during the best parts of the rut. Currently the pre-rut phase is coming to an end and bucks are starting to lay down some nice sign. I have yet to actually find any rubs or scrapes that I would attribute to “rutting behavior”. I’m guessing the bucks are still holding tight to cover and fattening up for the upcoming rut when they’ll send days upon end for hot does. It should be this week, when we start to see the rubs and scrapes that tell us the breeding season is near. I like to go by the moon and have success following the advice of other moon hunting theorist. This year the “Rutting Moon” as it’s called will occur on Sunday, November 17. This is the second full moon after the Autumnal Equinox. Some theorist believe this triggers the chase phase of the rut, while others claim it triggers peak breeding. All I know is this is a great day to be in the woods. I was lucky enough to be in the woods the weekend of the rutting moon a few years ago and felt like I saw every buck in my area. I counted 7 different bucks either chasing or cruising for does. This is an awesome day in my little Zone 4 County.

Regardless of rut timing, the entire month of November is the best time to be in the woods.  My best tip for hunting the rut is simple, sit all day. If possible, try to sit all day in the stand or blind and you’ll increase your chances during the rut. You can do all the scouting you want but you can’t kill them if your not with them. Good luck out there and post those rut reports.

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