A blog dedicated to the Missouri Whitetail Hunter

Archive for October, 2012

2012 Rut Prediction

So first off, I know I haven’t made a post in a while. But If anyone has been a full-time college student, you can understand that somethings take priority. But I’m back (for now).

The leaves are really turning brown in my neck of the woods, yesterday we had our first real taste of cold weather. I couldn’t be happier about it either, because that means one thing to us deer hunters. The rut is just around the corner. But exactly “when” around the corner?

One of the biggest arguments in deer hunting circles is what triggers the onset of estrous in does and the specific date of the peak of the rut. Some say the moon, some claim the weather, and some say it’s the amount of sunlight per day in the fall. It’s an on going debate year to year among die hard hunters.
So in this post I’m going to share with you the prediction I’m basing some of my hunting on. Also I’ll give a few good ideas of what kind of set up I think would work in each phase of the rut. Hopefully I can help you make a prediction of when your going to be in the stand this fall.

One of the biggest claims is the onset of the 2nd full moon after the Autumn Equinox. According to the this theory, once this moon (which they call the “Rutting Moon”) hits, most doe’s estrus cycles kick into gear and the peak of the rut follows shortly. There’s been a lot of research in this area, and a lot of data to back it up. One of the biggest supporters of this predictions is Charles Alsheimer. Who has done 15 years of research with this “Rutting Moon Prediction”. Charles main hypothesis to his research is this:

At some point in autumn, the amount of sunlight decreases enough to reset the whitetail’s reproductive clock, thus placing the breeding season in November, December and January in the Northern Hemisphere. Once a doe’s reproductive cycle is reset by a specific amount of daylight, her estrous cycle is ready to be cued by moonlight, which provides a bright light stimulus to the pineal gland several nights in a row each lunar month. Then, the rapid decrease in lunar brightness during the moon’s third quarter triggers hormonal production by the pineal gland. Physiological changes prompted by the pineal gland culminate in ovulation and estrus.

Now the “Rutting Moon” this fall hits on October 29th, and with Alsheimer’s claims this is the kick start to this years rut. But 4 to 5 days before the 29th, Alsheimer says there will be an increase in buck activity during the “Seeking Phase”. Which to me is a great time to be in the woods. Bucks are cruising outside their normal home ranges to find as many does as possible. This time of the year is a great time to spend all day in the stand. There’s no telling what might pass by your set up, especially if you’re in a funnel or pinch point, where deer feel they have to travel. Alsheimer then goes on to claim that starting around November 2nd, the “Chasing Phase” of the rut should come into full swing. This is personally my favorite time of the rut. It’s that boiling point in the buck’s testosterone. Expect to see a lot of buck activity, from chasing does to fighting. Be in the stand all day just because you won’t wanna miss this intensity. This phase of the rut is a great time to call and rattle. To try and aggravate that testosterone of a mature buck. The best stand to sit in this phase I think is a travel route between bedding and feeding. Rattling near a bedding site around mid day could pull a buck off of his bed and into your area. As well as the travel route you could see multiple does, with the potential to have a buck hot on her heels.

This activity should continue until between November 8th and November 16th. This is the only problem I have with this system of predicting the rut. That’s a very large window to guess, when the peak of estrous and breeding occurs. But this is what is referred to as the “Lockdown Phase”. Mature bucks get tied up with a single doe, waiting for here to breed. It’s a slow and hard time to hunt, because buck activity seems to dip off. Those locked up bucks are with their does in thick cover. Any bucks seen alone are on the hunt for another doe. In this window between the 8th and the 16th, is usually the time when Missouri makes it the opening day for rifle season. Personally for me that’s why rifle season lacks the intense activity that bow season has in late October and early November. Although I’ve had the majority of my success in rifle season, on those bucks looking for another hot doe. I can attribute my success during this portion of the rut to making sure I was in the stand every morning and evening. After this lockdown phase the rut really winds down and for those who hunt the 2nd rut get ready. As for me in late season situations, I’m hunting over a food source.

So what does all this really mean to the average deer hunter. To me it means the rut is going to hit a little earlier than it has in the last few years. Which I like the sound of. Also I think we should experience a more pronounced period of rutting activity. Which around those dates of October 29th and November 2nd should make this season exciting. Now I’m not putting ALL my chips on this prediction. But they give me a rough idea of when I should be in the stand, and how I should hunt on those days based on what phase of the rut we might be in.

So what do you think? Does the Alsheimer Rut Prediction intrigue you? Does it make you change your hunting calender?