Knowledge is power when planning your deer hunt. These indicators will let you know when the time is right.
Predictions can be based on science, experience or the evaluation of facts. They can also be based on opinion, old wives’ tales and voodoo.
The second full moon after the autumnal equinox triggers the peak in rutting activity. This is based on studies that have taken place over a period of three decades. These studies were conducted by biologists including Wayne Laroche, who has continuously studied the lunar calendar for years to assist in making whitetail rut predictions. The second full moon after the autumnal equinox daylight starts to lessen is often referred to as the “rutting moon.”
Mark Your Calendar
For 2014, the rutting moon begins on Nov. 6. This is a very good thing for whitetail hunters. Last year the rutting moon was later, beginning in mid-November. The late rutting moon results in a trickle of rut activity without a surge in activity. The inconsistent activity means less bucks will be killed.
This year, hunters should see a traditional hard week of rutting activity beginning with the rutting moon. The rut will be more intense, start earlier and last longer than last year. Be prepared for hard-charging buck action!
Based on the moon times, the best time to hunt the whitetail rut in 2014 will be the first two weeks of November, or more specifically from Oct. 30 through Nov. 13.
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Conception Date Theory
Some hunters do not think the moon has anything to do with the whitetail rut because actual breeding dates do not change much by region from year to year. The idea is, if a doe is coming into estrus, a full moon or weather front is not going to change that.
The best way to figure out this information for your area is to talk to ranchers, farmers and outfitters. You want to know when fawns were born last year. If you figure out how many days a doe will carry a fawn before birth, and you know the approximate birth date, you can figure out the approximate date of conception.
Another good source for this information is your trail camera. This is a good reason to keep your camera up and running all year long.
The Weather Jump Start
Many hunters feel that extreme changes in weather cause whitetail bucks’ breeding instinct to kick in. The back-side of a cold front is a great time to hunt. This theory makes sense because if deer are up and moving due to temperature and pressure effect, bucks will also chase does that are coming into estrus.
Look for changes in temperature from day to night and also from day to day. If you can isolate a variation of 15 degrees or more from one day to the next, the colder day is a better day to hunt. When cold fronts are coming in, particularly from true north, the day before the weather change and the first day of the weather change are days where you are likely to see bucks chasing does and other rut-like behavior.
This year has already produced some extreme weather swings. From early snow in the midwest to freezing temperatures in the northeast, snow storms in North Carolina and Tennessee and temperature in the 30s in Texas, the “weather jump start” to the rut is here. Look for the next big temperature swing and make sure you are in the woods the day before, day of and day after to be most successful.
These tips range from scientific facts and guesstimates from experience but if you follow them, you are bound to get a buck.