Mature Buck Strategies

2018 Whitetail Rut Forecast and Hunting Guide

2018 whitetail rut forecast

The 2018 Whitetail Rut Forecast for your area has been set in stone for many years before this current prediction. However, will the moon play a role in this year's annual whitetail rut timing by choosing new dates for you to be in the woods? Make sure to use this precision rut and hunting guide forecast to predict exactly when and why to climb into your favorite rut stand.

Whether it's the Pre Rut, Rut Lockdown, Peak Rut, Post Rut or Secondary Rut phase, here is a guide for not only knowing when to hunt, but which stands to focus on and why. Should you favor buck or doe bedding areas in the morning or should you sit adjacent to a food plot during the evening hours. While we all have our favorite rut stands, your exact choice of treestand location depends on the current phase of the 2018 whitetail rut, and here is your guide...

*I created this video to help you know exactly which stand to sit in, during exactly which phase of the rut that you are experiencing.Let me know what you think in the comment section of the video!

When Will The 2018 Whitetail Rut Begin?

The most important factor for considering the timing of the 2018 whitetail rut forecast is something that you can figure out on your own by asking yourself a series of important questions, including: When did the rut begin last year, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago and many more! Your answer for each year should be the same, because it actually really is the same in your area, no matter where that you live no matter what the moon phase. While the timing of the rut is the same every single year, there are several factors that can greatly influence the intensity of the rut!

My goal is for you to gain the knowledge and power, to successfully forecast your own level of hunting success for not only the annual rut, but for the entire hunting season. It can be done! The weather can guide you to the most intense experiences of the rut, as well as daylight mature buck behavior. The following is a guide for not only all phases of the rut, but for a lifetime of predicting the best days to sit during any hunting season, for decades to come! Whitetail weather knowledge IS power, when it comes to consistently killing the oldest bucks in the neighborhood.

All Weather Whitetails

*Make sure to check out my latest book, "All Weather Whitetails", which reveals the most important ingredients for hunting during any kind of weather, while creating your own rut forecast!

1. Presence of Mature Bucks

The timing of the pre rut for your area could vary by about a week compared to other locations nearby. Why? Because if you have mature bucks on your land I have experienced that both rutting sign and the intensity of rut sign will be significantly enhanced. In fact if you don't have an old monster buck or two hanging around, you many not even recognize that the beginning of the rut has even taken place. When you combine the lock down phase of the rut that directly follows the pre rut, a parcel that isn't blessed with a mature buck or two, may not experience rutting behavior until the peak rut phase begins, 10 days to 2 weeks after the beginning of the rut.

2. Weather Factors

I certainly don't like to run the wooded hills of SW WI, PA or Southern OH when the temps are 80 degrees, and I've found that mature bucks don't either. However, when the drastically falling temperatures and rising barometric pressures combine to turn the woods crispy and cold with blue skies, do not miss out! While the amount of breeding that typically takes place still takes place at night, make sure to take advantage of the weather factors revealed by my whitetail rut Hunting Formula, to predict the exact days that you should be taking a seat during the 2018 rut.

3. Amount of Applied Hunting Pressure

When doe family groups and young bucks are already well aware that hunting season is under way, the amount of pellet and urine scent, as well as deer sign in general, can be greatly diminished on any land that hunters expect a rutting buck to reside. If too much pressure has already been applied on your land, your only hope may be that a rutting cruiser from a 1/2 mile away or more, happens to travel through your land during the peak rut. Hunting pressure can turn an otherwise great whitetail rut hunting parcel that can yield a buck during all phases, into a peak-rut-hope parcel that has to rely on the random wanderings of a nearby giant, during the most intense portion of the annual whitetail rut.

2018 whitetail rut forecast

*Do you want to make sure you can keep tabs on the 2018 rut? Make sure that you don't forget to include a high quality Trail Camera, in your whitetail rut product arsenal.

Hunting The 2018 Whitetail Rut

My prediction for your 2018 Whitetail Rut is that if you follow the timing and practices of this 2018 Whitetail Rut Hunting Guide, you should have a great chance at connecting on a mature buck this season-and make sure to let me know about it!

2018 Whitetail Pre Rut

When a mature buck or two is hanging around, make sure to focus on the morning hours within 100-150 yards and on the downwind side of suspected buck bedding areas, in particular when the morning temperatures are crispy, cold and below freezing.

2018 Whitetail Rut Lock Down

While this rut lock down phase is difficult to recognize if you haven't first experienced a mature buck or two during the pre rut, it happens every year and it is a time when every buck in the woods is invited to the annual breeding party. While most bucks are locked up with does, that doesn't mean that you can't still enjoy an outstanding hunt; after all, the 2018 rut will have begun! By focusing on doe bedding area movements, buck cruising funnels between doe bedding areas and evening food source movements, you can give yourself a great opportunity to fill your tag. This is a great time to find a stand that offers it all, including: Doe bedding movement, mid-day cruising between doe bedding areas and evening food source movement.

2018 Whitetail Rut Peak Rut

During the peak rut phase stand management is vital! By focusing on buck or doe bedding areas in the morning, traditional cruising funnels during the mid-day and afternoon food source movements during the evening hours, you can use 1-3 treestand locations to make sure that you are maximizing not just the right day to be in the woods, but the right treestand for the exact time of the day that you should take a seat in one of your favorite stand locations.

2018 Whitetail Rut Post Rut

While bucks are sometimes beginning to take a break and rest during the morning hours, I have experienced that the mid-day and in particular the afternoon food source hours, can be exceptional! When the rut is on its last legs during mid to late November in most states, I sometimes skip a morning treestand in the hopes of hunting a completely fresh afternoon food source movement in the same general location.

2018 Whitetail Secondary Rut

While the secondary rut is brief, it makes up for the lack of length with the potential of an outstanding level of intensity. During this phase of the rut, make sure to focus on food, food, food! Mature bucks may be recovering, but they don't want to let the annual rut die and they need to put the feed bag on. While I still encourage you to check out a morning bedding area movement funnel or two, make sure that you don't potentially spoil a high value afternoon sit opportunity, in the same Line of Deer Movement.

2018 whitetail rut forecast

*The Quality Deer Management Association came out with a great Whitetail Rut study that discusses that there is absolutely zero relationship between the various moon phases and the actual timing of breeding activity. Noted deer research biologist John Ozoga steered me straight on this fact nearly 2 decades ago and I have been enjoying the positive impact on my mature buck, whitetail rut hunting success for many years since.

2018 Moon Phase Rut Hunting Guide

Unfortunately this portion of this 2018 whitetail forecast and hunting guide is going to be pretty short. While I do believe that the moon does play a minor role in influencing deer movements, there are so many other factors that come first. I personally take any type of moon phase out of the equation for choosing when to hunt or not, because of the lower level of deer hunting priority. Here are several factors that in my experience influence deer movement -in particular rutting movement- before any moon phase:

  1. Traditional Rut Timing
  2. Temperature change, Wind Change, Extreme Weather Change,Barometric Pressure Change (any or all of them)
  3. Your Hunting Pressure
  4. Your Neighbor's Hunting Pressure
  5. Presence of Adjacent Fall Food Sources

Is there an influence to mature buck rutting movement by the moon? Sure, but after 30 target buck harvests over the past 25 years while paying attention to the many other influences of herd movement, I most likely won't be considering the current moon phase or moon phase rut predictions, any time soon. While it may be fun to check out the various moon phase forecasts, I encourage you to make sure that you plan your most important rut hunting opportunities around The Weather.

*The above video details how to hunt the annual whitetail rut, but make sure to check out my Tradition Rut Timing Prediction article for you area!


I apologize, but it's broken record time: The rut takes place at the same time every single season in your location AND the weather by far is the strongest predictor of mature buck daylight rutting activity. What I have experienced over and over again, is that if you combine mature bucks and cold weather at some point during the last 10 days of October in most locations, make sure not to miss out!Should you pay attention to the moon? I don't and ff you remember that a great moon phase day combined with a poor weather day is a POOR day to be in the woods and a poor moon phase day combined with a great weather day is a GREAT day to be in the woods, you will find a great deal of whitetail rut hunting success.

To be highly successful during the 2018 whitetail, rut you may need to cut through the clutter of powders, sprays, scent machines, moon predictions and stinky deer lures, to just plain watch the weather, keep your clothes clean, stay quiet and pick your favorite stand that matches the current phase of the rut. It really is that simple!

-Jeff Sturgis

*Make sure to check out my rut hunting weather formula for knowing exactly when to sit in your favorite Rut Treestand!


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