The RUT – a unanimous term that sparks excitement, anxiety, and giddiness amongst the deer hunting community. It’s the equivalent of Christmas, the 4th of July, and Thanksgiving all rolled into an unbelievable 3-week period during the fall. Quite plainly, as hunters, it’s what we live for.
Hunting magazines dedicate entire issues to it, the Outdoor Channel runs nonstop footage of it, and social media is swarmed with it. THE RUT is a deer hunter’s cocaine, when we’re not hunting it, we’re consuming it, discussing it, daydreaming of it, and waiting for it. It’s the time when we feel good about every hunt and every hour we are on stand.
Without further ado, here are the 2016 Rut Predictions for Every Theory!
2016 Rut Predictions Based on the Moon
If you’re a hunter you’ve probably discussed and likely debated the moons effect on the whitetail rut. If you believe the moon rules the rut, then plan on using your vacation days later this fall. Charlie Alsheimer and Wayne Laroche have been sharing their rut predictions with us as the past couple of years, and if you pay attention to their rutting moon theory, it’s pretty easy to plan out “the best rut hunting dates” for years to come. “How?” you might ask. The answer is simple, the moon rotates through the same lunar phase cycle over and over – every 29.5 days (from new moon to new moon). Thus, we know when each full moon, or more specifically each rutting moon will land for years to come.
Future Rutting Moon Dates
2016 – November 14th – Late – Trickle Rut
2017 – November 4th – Synchronized – Intense Rut
2018 – October 24th – Early – Average Rut
2019 – November 12th – Late – Trickle Rut
2020 – October 31st – Synchronized – Intense Rut
The closer the second full moon after the autumn equinox (the rutting moon) falls to November 1, the more intense the rut should be. Looking ahead, 2017 and 2020 should provide an exciting few weeks of rut hunting. This year the rutting moon falls on November 14th and they are calling for a “trickle” rut with better activity occurring in late-November, similar to 2013 when the rutting moon fell on November 17th. The seeking phase is predicted to begin around November 7th, the chasing phase to begin around November 14th, and the tending/breeding phase to begin around November 21st. Since the rutting moon falls later in November, hunters should expect a slower, and more drawn out rut according to Alsheimer and Laroche with the peak breeding set to occur around Thanksgiving.
BEST DATES TO HUNT THE RUT: November 14th – November 21st
Rut Predictions Based on Biology
If you believe what science has to say, then this year’s rut will be the same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. The reason is simple – the rut is controlled by photoperiod (amount of daylight). Several studies have been published in Canada and the U.S. showing that the rut (peak breeding dates) occurs at the same time every year.
In the study they used fetuses of car-killed does to back-date the day of conception. Remarkably, the center of breeding activity fell during the same 4-day period eight out of nine years the study was conducted. This logic tells us we should be looking at the peak breading dates in our region from previous seasons. Chances are does will again come into estrous during the exact same time this year and for years to come. In the Midwest, peak breeding center typically occurs on or around November 15th.
One key thing to remember is that you don’t necessarily want to target the peak of breeding for your “RUT-cation”, as this is when bucks will most likely tending does, thus moving less. Instead, target the ten days leading up to the peak, as this is when most bucks will on their feet cruising for does in estrus.
BEST DATES TO HUNT THE RUT: November 7th – November 14th
Rut Predictions Based on the Farmer’s Almanac
If you’re a firm believer in what the Farmer’s Almanac has to say, then you’ll want to be hunting October 28th – November 3rd as a major cold front is set to blanket much of the country. The Farmer’s Almanac makes generic predictions on a 3-day basis for every region of the United States. The 2016 forecast for the Midwest reads, “October 28th – 31st: Stormy Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, some wet snow could mix in. November 1st- 3rd: Fair and unseasonably cold.”
Combining a major cold front with testosterone boosted bucks should equal some phenomenal deer hunting! Of course, these are long term predictions made a year in advance, so take out of it what you please. Regardless, major cold fronts are no joke when it comes to hunting. You can expect increased deer movement whenever they hit during the season – September through January. However, if you need to be selective on which fronts to sit, target any major cold fronts that fall between October 20th and November 20th. Sitting both ends of the front should provide some exciting hunting with mature bucks on their feet.
BEST DATES TO HUNT THE RUT: October 28th– November 3rd
Rut Hunting Based on Historical Cold Fronts
While the Farmers’ Almanac uses an algorithm to predict the future weather patterns, we looked at historical data to see if there were any patterns as to when cold fronts occur. If you believe cold snaps are what get deer on their feet, then recent weather patterns say the second weekend of November is going be a buck marathon.
In a previous article, Spencer looked at daily temperatures from the last five years for areas in Nebraska and Kentucky, choosing these two states because they span the heart of whitetail country. He recorded all cold snaps for the month of November, marking down days where the average temp and lowest temp were more than 5 degrees lower than the day before. This subtle change only occurs about three to six times a month.
Incredibly though, a cold snap in Nebraska has fallen on every November 11th for the last four years. Cold snaps were also recorded for the same area on the 6th or 7th for four of the last five years.
Kentucky also has some consistencies. The 5th-7th, 12th-14th and 23rd-25th seem to be reliable for major drops in temperature, with each range experiencing cold snaps in four of the last five years.
BEST DATES TO HUNT THE RUT: November 5th-7th, 11th– 14th (Any cold front predicted in November)
Rut Hunting in the South
Unfortunately, in the South, the rut doesn’t always follow the same pattern as the North. As QDMA explains:
“In southern regions, breeding dates aren’t as cut-and-dry. The photoperiod change is less dramatic, the climate is less severe, and there is less need to breed “on time.” Published reports show peak breeding in October in east Texas, December in Arkansas, January in Mississippi and Alabama, February in the Florida panhandle, and October in southeast Georgia. All of these regions share a similar photoperiod, so there are clearly some other factors involved. This means photoperiod controls the approximate season of breeding (fall or winter), but the deer herd’s genetics likely influence the exact timing of breeding.”
Read the Full Article Here: What Triggers the Whitetail Rut
BEST DATES TO HUNT THE RUT: Ask your local wildlife biologist
Peak Breeding Vs. Rutty Activity
As hunters we often find ourselves in discussions with camp members, hunting buddies, and friends from other states wondering if the rut is “ON” or “OFF”. What we’re typically talking about here is the activity, not the actual breeding phase. The key difference is the breeding doesn’t change much year to year, but the deer activity and movement we see does.
Deer movement during the rut can change dramatically from season to season, which is why some years the rut seems hot and heavy with a frenzy of activity, and other years it seems slow and drawn out. The main factors that dictate movement include weather conditions, buck-to-doe ratio, moon phase or position, hunting pressure, acorns, and crop harvest to name a few. The ever changing conditions of these factors are largely to blame for the “different” types of rut we experience as hunters.
My final advice is to hunt hard and smart during the first two weeks of November, while keying in on the days just before and after a cold front.