*For more details concerning the entire timing and hunting strategy for the 2016 Rut Forecast, make sure not to miss my article discussing When the 2016 Rut Will Begin.
Rut Hunting on the Weekends
Let’s face it, not everyone has the ability to hunt whenever the conditions are perfect, whenever they want to or whenever they feel like it. The majority of hunters have to rely on hunting weekends to enjoy their passion of hunting whitetails, even if those weekends fall during the annual rut. When you take to the woods this Fall, armed with the latest 2016 rut forecast, it is important to navigate the rollercoaster of Pre, Peak and Post rut opportunities; even if you can only hunt on the weekends. But before we talk about how to hunt each weekend, which weekends should be on your immediate radar?
*Would you rather listen about the 2016 rut forecast, than read about it? Then we invite you to watch my predictions instead.
Can’t Miss 2016 Rut Forecast Weekends:
Although each weekend has a different rut timing, it is easy to predict exactly which weekends that you need to pay attention to this season! However, if you can find a little flexibility with each weekend, make sure to let the weather tell you if you should place a priority on Friday or Saturday versus Sunday or Monday. I understand that your time may be limited, but when you learn to prioritize high value days to be in the woods, you can make sure to prioritize your sits to a much higher degree of success.
- Friday October 28th to Monday October 31st: For locations like ND, MN, WI, MI and NY, the last weekend of October screams Pre Rut every single season. If you hunt in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana or OH, your forecasted rut may be just barely beginning, however I would not miss this weekend if there was a major cold front ripping through the area right before, or during the first part of the weekend. On the other-hand for the Upper Midwest, the weekend of 10/21-10/24 will be a can’t miss weekend for Pre Rut activity, if you have a local core mature buck residing around your hunting land.
- Friday November 4th to Monday November 7th: This is the great, 2016 rut forecast transition weekend! Why? Because while some hunters in northern locations will be experiencing the timing of Peak rut activities, other folks in southern Midwest locations will see activity levels just beginning to heat up. Either way, beg, borrow or trade your time off of work to make sure that you do not miss any cold front hunting opportunity that relates to this weekend. You should always consider the weather forecast when it comes to traditing days off of work. For example in the Upper Midwest, if the 4th, 5th, and 6th featured predicted highs of 77, 76 and 78, followed by a major front on the 7th and a daytime high on the 7th of a crisp 52; I would choose to hunt that 1 day on Tuesday, versus the previous 4 days combined! Those kind of decisions have a led to many mature bucks for me, even if the drive was 7 hours to hunt, one way.
- Friday November 11th to Monday November 14th: Wow how time flies! An annual whitetail rut that starts out as a whimper often ends as a whimper. Although this weekend will land smack dab in the middle of high flying monster bucks in states like KS, MO, KY as well as the southern portions of IL, IN and OH, it will already be fading in the North. If the forecasted weather conditions are warmer than average you can expect a luke-warm Peak Rut prediction even in the best of states, however if the conditions are steamy in the North, the forecast will call for poor to slowly dying Post rut activities. However, if this weekend falls right after a major cold front blasts through the Midwest, you can expect a lot of peak and post rut giants to fall, while they are cruising for their last doe or two before giving up on the 2016 primary rut.
- Friday November 18th to Monday November 21st: And just like that, the 2016 rut forecast will be demanding an end to the annual whitetail rut craziness that we all love, pursue, plan for an live. This weekend will feature some outstanding Post Rut activities in most southern Midwest states, but it will be 95% over in many northern locations. If the weather has been cold in the North I wouldn’t hang your bow up just yet, because until the conditions slam the door on a reclusive old monarch, he may still be on the prowl for one last day of cruising of does. However, if you hunt in the South, make sure not to miss out if the conditions are right, because this is truly the time when the oldest buck in the neighborhood will make a mistake.The weekend of 11/25-11/28 will still offer some outstanding rut timing opportunity for southern Midwest hunters if the weather is good, but in the North it will be time to begin focusing on the secondary rut, which typically begins during early December.
2016 Rut Forecast Weekend Wrap-Up
Navigating the 2016 rut forecast takes patience and dedication to a system of hunting the Pre, Peak and Post rut periods. It also takes knowing that the rut will take place at the same time each season in your area. If you don’t experience Pre Rut activities, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t happening somewhere else, and if that is the case, you can’t hunt the next weekend as if you are still waiting for the Pre Rut to take place. Focusing on the correct 3 weekends for your area, your 2016 rut forecast will include the perfect weekend timing for Pre, Peak and Post rut activities. However, each weekend needs to be hunted a bit differently!
During the Pre Rut you can expect a mature buck to be adjacent to doe family groups already. He doesn’t have to search, he doesn’t have to fight and he doesn’t have to wander. Instead, he can find a doe to breed early and easily, without having to leave his core Fall hangout. Hunting food source movements during the evening and buck bedding areas during cold, toe numbing mornings is a great strategy. In fact, a large % of my oldest buck kills have come from cold, frosty Pre Rut bedding area sits. Once the Peak rut is underway, bedding areas during the morning, cruising funnels during they day and food source movements at night need to each be taken advantage of. Make sure not to sit on a morning bedding stand all day, because you will miss major movement opportunities for 1/2 the day. On the flip-side, try not to sit in a food source movement pattern all day, because you will likely be well away from morning movements near a bedding area somewhere, for the majorit of the morning. When the Post Rut rolls around, taking a seat near doe bedding areas in the morning is a great tactic, as is sitting on cruising funnels during the day that take advantage of major movements that connect large, neighborhood habitats. And as in the rest of the entire rut, sitting on or near a food source during the evening hours may cough up a mature buck opportunity as an aging monster predictably visits an afternoon doe-feeding hangout one last time.
Which weekend is right for you?
Those 2016 rut forecast weekends will be here soon! Personally, I have experienced the older I become, the faster timing flies. Also, even though I have a full time career that involves being able to hunt nearly any day of the entire season, I still have to plan and use my time very wisely. I will not be hunting every day during the rut because I will be saving my sit opportunities purely for the best days and I hope you will do the same. Like most things in life, quality matters more than volume and consistently harvesting mature bucks is all about forecasted, easily predictable, well timed, precision sit opportunities. Can you make it happen only hunting weekends? You sure can! And if you add a little flexibility for hunting a Monday versus a Friday or even a Thursday/Friday combo over a Monday/Tuesday timing, based on the weather, you can even enjoy each phase of the rut with many high value sits.