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09 Nov

Hunting the Rut; Knowing the Signs to Get Outdoors

Large Bucks fighting the Rut Large Bucks fighting the Rut

Hunting the Right Place at the Right Time

Although research confirms that the whitetail rut takes place at virtually the exact same time every year, most hunters know that the rut’s intensity varies from day to day and season to season. As much as your head spins with the mental images of scrapes, full moons, rubs, monster bucks, and rut-crazed chase scenes, the best times to be in the woods will rarely coincide with calendar anniversaries. Through years of personal experience and research gathered from other hunters, I have discovered three critical rut-­influencing elements that can help you tame the annual madness, and also help you predict what I refer to as “high-­intensity rut-hunting days” with great precision. So, let’s leave the long-range rut prognostications behind and get down to brass tacks.

 

Knowing the Signs of the Rut Chart

Below is the formula, and the details follow, starting with the pre-rut.


Here is how to calculate your own best rut-hunting times. (Value key comes first, directions below.)

Moon Phase
5 points if planning full-moon morning sits, but subtract 5 for full-moon evening sits
(+/-5 points)

Temperature Change
2 points for every degree of temperature drop, up to 20.
(2–40 points)

Wind Speed Post-Front
0–10 mph = 5 points
11–15 mph = 3 points
16–20 mph = 1 point
(1–5 points)

Top Wind Speed During Front
1–10 mph = 1 point 
11–15 mph= 5 points
16–20 mph = 7 points
20+ mph = 10 points
(1–10 points)

Extreme Conditions During Front 
2 points each for extreme rain, snow, sleet, or thunder 
(0–8 points)

Calm Days Before Front 
2 days = 1 point
3 days = 3 points
4 days = 8 points
5 days = 10 points
(1–10 points)

Value for Each Day After Front
Day 1 = full value 
Day 2 x .67 
Day 3 x .33 

Add up your points and divide by 7 to create the expected value for your sit. These scores apply to a range that covers from the months of your summer scouting efforts to the end of the primary rut for your mature buck-hunting endeavors.

What the Numbers Mean:  1–5 = Poor to Average,  6–8 = Good to Very Good,  9–10 = Can’t Miss