September is upon us here in The Show-Me State. There’s just a bit of crisp in the air in the mornings and days are getting shorter. Not to mention football is back! But with the changing of seasons comes a Missouri deer hunters prime time. The rut will be upon us in a few short weeks. Bucks in my neck of the woods are starting to split up bachelor groups and isolate themselves. Proof that the wild storm that is the whitetail rut is brewing.
Last year I wrote on rut predictions that were heavily dependent on the moon phases. These predictions are brought to us by Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine’s Charles Alsheimer. He’s released his rut prediction again for this fall and it’s a much different rut prediction from last fall’s. Alsheimer’s prediction this year is predicting a much later rut. The “rutting moon” as it’s called is said to hit on November 17th this year. With peak rutting activity predicted to be seen from November 14th to the 25th. He has also predicted a “trickle rut”, much like that of 2010. The definition of a trickle rut is a rut that has no true high point. There are highs and lows, but no ultimate date that the most rutting activity will occur. I could go into so much more detail on Charles predictions for this year, but for my sanity I won’t.
Personally, I’ve had it with all these predictions by hunting magazines. They are never consistent with the actual rut that fall (at least in my area of the country). Instead I’m going to tell you my own personal rut prediction for this fall, you ready for it? IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN! Bucks are going to establish territories, chase does, and breed those does. Simple as that. The best way to hunt my prediction is even simpler, BE IN THE WOODS as much as possible and hunt everyday you can for the month of November. Ask any successful trophy hunter and that’s the first thing they’ll tell you. They hunt every day possible. Now I realize folks work and have lives; me personally I’m a full-time college student an hour and a half away from the property I hunt. So for the majority of people, you can’t hunt every single day of November. But hopefully you understand what I’m getting at. Hunt as much as possible. The deer are gonna be out there, and they’re gonna be moving. Only way to know if you’ll get that trophy is if you’re 20 feet in a tree.
Good news is the deer out there most likely will be the same deer you saw all summer scouting too. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Ecology tells of how bucks didn’t enlarge their home ranges during the rut, they only increased their movements in those home ranges during the rut. The study also showed the bucks remained most active at dawn and twilight. It showed that moon phase had no influence on deer behavior or movement. The only factor that had any influence was change in temperature and climate. If your scouting showed great potential in the summer. Odds are those bucks are still in the area. Only thing you need to do is be in the woods with them.
With an increase in movement during the rut in a mature bucks home range. The best way to have an encounter with that buck is the set up in travel corridors or pinch points. High traffic areas are, in my opinion, the best way to bring home a trophy. Mapping out a pinch point between a food resource and bedding area is the best travel corridor in the book. You need to hunt what a whitetail is after, before you can hunt whitetails. Food is still the number one thing on a whitetail’s mind, everyday of the year. Just make sure you have a safe entry and exit point to a stand in a corridor, to keep from kicking up deer that might be meeting you as you come in. I’ve had some of the best hunts in travel corridors during the rut. I highly recommend sitting in the stand all day in these situations. You won’t be disappointed.
Rut predictions to me are a dime a dozen. They all tell the same story. The rut WILL happen. Yes, they are great debating points and give some insight. But to keep you from investing all your chips on a one or two day window, I recommend you avoid them. That way you save yourself from major disappointment in the end.
Like always the best way to success is preparation. Through hard work, scouting, and being prepared to execute. Those are the keys to success in November. If you have those locked down, you should be just fine in the deer hunters prime time.
Good Hunting Folks!