Picking the right time to hunt can sometimes be as stressful as scheduling a trip to the dentist.
You want to make sure you’re not too early in the season, but don’t want to miss the peak rut either. The peak rut is defined here as the time when bucks are most active and visible in the woods versus the time they are essentially locked down with a doe to breed.
While you can also effectively hunt the pre-rut and during the right time period, there’s something magical about being in the woods when testosterone-fueled bucks are chasing frantic does.
If you’ve ever worried about making the right choice, the following tips will help ease your anxiety.
Location, Location, Location!
Depending on where in the U.S. you hunt, your peak rut dates will vary a bit. The further north you are, the earlier the rut occurs, while the opposite is true as you head south.
Generally, the Midwest region shows pretty consistent peak rut dates in early to mid-November. During this time, the bucks are very active during all hours of the day, and will be on their hooves trying to find a receptive female. This rut-crazed state is when they are most vulnerable since they spend most of their time traveling.
From my own observations in the Midwest, this period can extend from about November 2 to November 12. That time is now, so picking the upcoming week should pay off!
Weather is another important consideration in picking the right week to hunt, but generally you won’t know the forecast until much closer to your vacation date.
As such, it’s more useful if you have a flexible work schedule. Through most of the season deer movement generally increases during and immediately after a cold front, so be sure to capitalize on them when they come.
A light rain or snow can produce good deer movement, but heavy amounts of either will slow it down as they are more vulnerable during these times.
If the wind is forecasted to be very strong or swirling directions, you might as well sleep in because this tends to put deer movement down and you could ruin your best hunting spot by filling the woods with your scent.
More from Wide Open Spaces
What about the moon?
Many hunters swear by the moon, touting its effects on the best time to hunt. Many others call the theory baloney.
The jury seems to be out on this topic, but I tend to fall under the second category. I wouldn’t pick my week to hunt off of the lunar cycle alone.
These tips should help you in deciding the right week to hunt for the upcoming season. However, it raises another question: have you ever regretted spending time in the woods, even when the deer aren’t moving? I sure haven’t.