Mature Buck Strategies

2015 Rut Prediction: Weekend Rut Timing

weekend rut timing

*For additional info concerning 2015 Rut Predictions, check out my"Guide To The 2015 Whitetail Rut"

For this 2015 rut prediction I would like to focus on four weekends that are critical to your success! Are you a "Weekend Warrior"? And even more importantly, does the term weekend warrior have a negative vibe surrounding it? It shouldn't, because if you can place a priority on hunting around these 4 weekends, you can take advantage of what the entire rut has to offer you, in your area. There is also a wealth of strategy that you can apply during these October and November weekends, which is what this 2015 rut prediction is all about! One of the most critical pieces of advice I can give you concerning the rut is to not wait. There are incredible opportunities to be found by hunters focusing on a period of several weeks, instead of a particular day or week on the calander each and every year.

Whitetails Success By Design

*Make sure to check out my whitetail book series including, "Whitetail Success By Design" and "Food Plot Success By Design", to help you find mature bucks this hunting season!

Predicting the Rut: Critical to My Own Personal Success

Although chasing whitetails, writing about whitetails and touring the North 1/2 of the country for whitetails has been my full time career for years, I still have to be efficient with my time! What about you? If you are like me and love everything whitetails, you may find that you also have to plan strategically to balance family and career on one side of your life, and your passion for your deer pursuits on the other side. Focusing on these 4 weekends will help you do that, and in my experience you will have a much greater opportunity to harvest a giant each and every season by spreading out your efforts over several weeks, instead of an "all or nothing" attack of an entire week-long hunt. My hunting partner Karl, travels 21 hours from GA to hunt with me each year in WI, for 9 days. During that time our couple of dozen treestands are fairly burned out by the 5th or 6th day, there are typically only 2-3 high quality weather days, and there are 1-2 days that he takes off to lower the stress on the deer herd. His work schedule dictates his timing, but several times he has made the trip after a local giant has already fallen, or during predominantly poor weather patterns that were just about to change.

Which 2015 Rut Prediction Weekends Apply To You?

First of all, I need to address something that may be hanging in the air concerning the timing of the rut. Whether it is from the National Quality Deer Management Association, noted deer researched biologist John Ozoga or even a host of virtually every other source of scientific data concerning the rut; the rut takes place at the same time in your area, every single year. Like most hunters, do you need to choose your vacation every year sometimes months in advance? Then consider focusing on the appropriate weekends in your state that are discussed in this 2015 rut prediction. Moon phase calanders are pretty cool to discuss, easy to plan for and look at, but from personal experience as well as an overwhelming collection of scientific evidence, there does not yet appear to be any reliable scientific data to support a relation between moon phases and the timing of the rut.

There are several reasons that the timing appears to change a bit every year in some locations, but that has a lot more to do with the proximity to mature buck activity and the whims of the seasonal weather patterns, than anything else. I fully believe that moon phases effect feeding times and nighttime activity, but I haven't experienced the moon dictates when does are actually approaching estrus and being bred. The timing of estrus is based on the decreasing amount of light in the sky, similar to when late Summer leaves turn from their many shades of green, to their incredible coats of Fall.

*For more important info concerning the timing of the rut as it relates to weather, moon phases and the availability of local bucks, check out these articles:
-Core Mature Bucks
-No Link Between Moon Phase and Rut (from the Quality Deer Management Association)

Although the rut takes place at the same time every year, there are still major differences within the timing of the rut while traveling from North to South. Keep in mind as a general rule when you travel South, the rut begins later and also expands. For addressing the difference of the timing of the rut I will offer this simple distinction between many of the Northern States:

*For a line that extends from the Dakotas to MI to New Hampshire, you should focus more towards the weeks of October 24th through November 14th
*For a line that extends from Nebraska to IN to Maryland, you should focus more on the weeks of October 31st through November 21st

Does that seem too simplistic? This is a general guideline, but for my own hunting pursuits there is at least a week to 10 day difference in the timing of the rut, between where I hunt in WI and MI, and where I hunt in southern OH. It is consistent every year...but the difference is definitely there and it helps that I can follow the changes in the rut while spreading my efforts between areas that feature a different set of key weekends.

Saturday October 24th/31st, 2015 Rut Prediction

Nothing screams "PRE-RUT!" louder than this weekend. Do you have a great buck that you have been getting trail cam pictures of from late September through October? This is the time to recognize a calm, frosty morning and to take a seat on the downwind side of a big buck's daytime bedding area, or on a hidden brushy travel corridor between quality daytime bedding areas. I like to approach a great morning stand away from food with a "back-door" approach that often takes me for a long, pre-dawn walk through non-deer areas. If you have a local, core buck using the lands that you hunt close to, or during daytime hours...don't miss out!

weekend rut timing

*October of 2012 (above) features a graph of instability that carried the potential to turn into outstanding hunting opportunities and increased mature buck sign in the form of rubs, scrapes and sightings. October of 2013 (below) was just the opposite! Stable weather conditions resulted in a decrease in the overall rutting activity across much of the country as reflected in various hunting forums, my own personal experiences and those experiences of my clients from CO to PA.

weekend rut timing

Why do some parcels experience an explosion of rut activity during this period of time, while others do not? Because a mature buck does not need to wander far to find his first receptive doe during this period of time. If you are lacking a mature monster on the lands that you hunt, the lack of activity will reflect that! It also explains when your neighbor and hunting buddy 2 miles away may be seeing a drastically different level of rutting activity than what you are witnessing. Once a buck breeds his first or 2nd "easy does", he begins to wander, with greatly expanding rutting efforts.

*During each weekend of the rut, the level of activity will rise and fall with the weather, largely being influenced between the periods of cold days and warm days. One of the best tips that I can give you is to read the article titled:
-Whitetail Rut Weather Guide

Saturday October 31st/November 7th, 2015 Rut Prediction

This weekend may just feature the perfect blend of maximizing your harvest opportunity for a local giant that has established a hunting season residency on the land that you hunt, as well as the potential for the harvest of a cruising monster from your adjacent neighbors. Although mature bucks are likely to have their pick of receptive does, this is still a hot time in the whitetail woods as bucks are aggressive, dominant and have been known to begin wandering a bit. An all-day sit may be in order, but the entire morning, as well as 1-2 hours prior to dark can't be missed! If you can plan your sits to take advantage of potential bedding area movements in the morning, and then switch to another stand to observe evening feeding patterns-you can experience the best of both worlds, and get the most out of your hunting time.

Saturday, November 7th/14th, 2015 Rut Prediction

If October 24th is the beginning of the rut in most areas, than this weekend places you smack into the middle of the rut. Major cruising patterns, aggressive fighting and mature bucks seeking their 2nd or 3rd doe to breed for the year all fuel a crazy and unpredictable time of the rut to be in the whitetail woods. Do you have a local giant you are still after? You might see him...or he might be a mile away or more. Does your neighbor have an outstanding brute that you are hoping travels by one of your stands? You may see him...or you may not! Although this is not as precise of a time to take an individual buck that you may be after, this is an outstanding time to kill any mature buck that lives in the entire neighborhoods of several hundred acres or more. All-day sits can be highly productive, but I still often change stands to take advantage of separate morning bedding patterns and then evening feeding patterns.

weekend rut timing

By this time of the season I hope to have had an opportunity with a particular, mature giant that I have been after. Why? Because this period of time is completely unpredictable. A mature buck will wander far during this period of time and will often have as much of an opportunity to be seen on a neighbors 2-3 parcels away, or on your own.

Saturday, November 14th/21st, 2015 Rut Prediction

The last days of the rut are fast approaching during these weekend, and if you haven't tagged out during the previous 3 opportunities described during this rut prediction, this will be one last great opportunity! I encourage you to focus on long, cruising patterns of funnel crossings, doe bedding areas and evening food sources. It may be too late for a bedding area stand location for a local giant, or maybe not; but connecting on a buck who has an established core area a mile away or more is not out of the question.


Which set of weekends can you focus on, while balancing both family and career? My personal choice will be to jump between SW WI and Southern OH, as my hunting tactics will be applied to both private ag land and vast wooded public land locations. The miles will add-up and the balancing act will continue, but each of those 4 weekends will be on my radar, and I hope that they will be for you! There are several advantages to spreading out your hunting opportunities over several weekends:

1. Reducing the one time heavy dose of hunting pressure on your land, to a less noticeable lighter dose over a much greater length of time.
2. Greatly improving your ability to tap into the opportunity of seeing both local, and non-local mature bucks that will be more precisely available during each phase of the rut, and not just 1 particular week on the calander.
3. Consistent seasonal success, regardless of the weather patterns or phases of the moon. By spreading your efforts over a longer period of time, you will find that opportunties can be had despite a particular moon phase, and you most likely will not have to be locked into a specific weather pattern.

I also encourage you to strive for flexibility with work and home. If you are able to hunt a 3-4 day weekend, try to pick the day(s) off from work to coincide with the coldest and most calm conditions. For example because on OH public land I will be looking for long-range cruising monarchs that may cover many miles, my first weekend to hunt covers November 7th. If the conditions are cold on the frontside of the weekend my partners and I will take a Thursday/Friday off...and if they are cold on the backside of the weekend, we will take Monday/Tuesday off. If you can, it pays to add a twist of flexibility to your hunt to help you maximize your opportunites during this 2015 rut prediction guide.


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