Mature Buck Strategies

The 2015 Whitetail Rut Will Be

whitetail rut

Are you looking for the latest, most up to date Weekly Rut Forecast? Make sure to check out my Weekly Midwest Whitetail Rut Forecast.

Has the madness for the 2015 Whitetail Rut already started for you? Here is your complete guide to the 2015 Whitetail Rut, including a timeline of season-long mature buck opportunities. These are the buck behaviors that I have experienced for nearly 30 years, that will help you find success this hunting season. Although thhis is your "2015 Whitetail Rut" forecast, in reality you could apply this concept to the history of seasons past, let alone in the future. I will greatly look forward to expanding on each point in the timeline, but these are the hard-hitting aspects of the rut that I have experienced will offer you a definitive pattern of success for the 2015 Whitetail Rut, as well as many future ruts yet to come. These observations are based on literally 100s of mature buck patterns per year, through my own experiences and those of my clients. Following these rut-related patterns has been a passion of my for decades, and has proven to be extremely successful! I love sharing these whitetail rut strategies with you!

*This 2015 Whitetail Rut guide, goes "hand and hand" with another important rut article, titled 2015 Rut Prediction Weekend Rut TimingThe article details how to use the 4 weekends during this season's rut for timing all of your rut-related hunting activities.

The annual level of confusion and uncertainty typically begins in your supervisor's office during the beginning of the year. While staring at the months of October and November, you may have tried anything and everything in the past to rely on something to predict the exact day to be in the woods-still several months away! What is the answer? Flexibility. For over 2 years I have relied on cold fronts to reveal to me exactly when to enter the woods for a mature buck. Anything else has been misleading at best.

*What about a "Favorite Day", for example November you know how many giants fall the last 10 days of October? Waiting until your favorite day could easily be too late, and you will have missed at least a few GREAT days to be in the woods.

whitetail rut

-there is nothing better than a cold, morning sunrise during the rut!

*What about a particular moon phase? The best answer I can give is this: "If the moon phase is "perfect" on October 27th, but the temps are in the 80s with 25mph winds it will be a terrible day to be in the woods if your goal is to shoot a mature buck. On the flip-side if the moon phase is "very bad" on October 27th, but the temps start out in the 20s with calm winds...take a day off, call in sick, beg, plead and PLEASE get into your favorite treestand!

When will the 2015 Whitetail Rut be? From using precision whitetail rut forecasts, to making sure to hit the most appropriate period of time to harvest a mature buck this hunting season, here is your 2015 Whitetail Rut forecast.

Certain Uncertainty

Unless someone comes up with a way to predict what the exact temperature will be several months in advance, anything else is just a "best guess", at best. However, if you have the flexibility to hunt a day here or there with less than a week of notice, I would personally put more of a priority on that approach than choosing multiple days-off several months in advance. I chose my current and past careers based largely on that level of flexibility. There are just a handful of can't-miss days to be in the woods each year and they typically come in bunches of 3 days or less. Somewhere along the way I learned that hunting less during the "perfect" conditions was worth more that hunting more during poor conditions. The practice of "quality over quantity" offered a much higher level of success rate with mature bucks, and fit within a better schedule both at work and at home...which is even more important! The year is still young, so try doing all that you can to work for the flexibility of a day or 2 off the week before a sit, than trying to gamble on the perfect week 6 months in advance.

Something that I have found interesting is that by placing a higher priority on "Quality" than "Quantity", a few awesome things have happened!

1. Success! What is the bad thing about finding definitive precision "success"? Fewer days afield. My average # of sits per mature buck harvest opportunity has drastically decreased throughout the past 25 years which is a product of both an increased experience level and improved hunting grounds, but mostly by paying strict attention to weather patterns. I now sit 5-6 times or less for a mature buck, by only hunting when the conditions are the best. "Any day is a good day to hunt"....Sure! But not near my best locations, and not in my best stands that can be ruined for the following few weeks by 1 simple hunting sit during the wrong conditions. For me, I just choose to spend my "poor condition" days at home with my family, with my friends or working for my whitetail business.
2. Increased time with family, friends and even work. Why force a sit during poor conditions when you still have a few items on your honey-do list, or your spouse wants to go to dinner? If Saturday is a bad day to hunt, then build some brownie points with the family and wait until the conditions are better...even if you have to take a Saturday off from hunting.
3. Want to make your boss happy? Tell him that instead of taking a week off during the "Rut", ask him or her if you can instead be offered a little flexibility to hunt 3-4 days at a time, with a priority placed on the weekends if possible. In a production type setting many employers would rather have you off for fewer days in a row, and in that way you are not forced to hunt poor condition days during a set week off. My lease partner Karl from GA has to hunt 9 days in a row. The bad thing is that we figure he has 2-3 really good days, 2-3 really bad days, and a few days that are just "OK". We find that he ends up being forced to take days or various sits off, while preferring to save those stand locations for much higher % sit opportunities.
4. Again...SUCCESS! If you have to call your vacation many months in advance? If you can, at least pick your favorite 3 weekends and make them 3-4 day burst of hunting opportunity instead of a 9 day "burn out your family, spouse, boss and treestands" kind of hunt. You then spread the impact on your land over a less-invasive longer period, and your are also are not forced to hunt during the 2015 whitetail rut during extended periods of poor weather conditions.

-Never burn out a 35% opportunity sit, for a 5% opportunity sit! Sure, you can shoot a mature buck any time that you enter the woods, but it takes a whole lot of poor opportunity sits to equal a high quality sit and by the time you reach that high % sit? Your stand location is already burned out and wasted for the year.

Click here to read: Whitetail Cold Front Hunting Strategy Guide

Precision 2015 Whitetail Rut Forecast Flexibility

Each year around October 1st I offer I offer a 45 day forecast, and I will do the same for the 2015 Whitetail Rut as well. Here is a past example: 45 Day Rut Forecast. 45 Days is still too long to offer the level of precision that you should seek, but the point of the article was to offer a reflection of just how few days there are available that should be considered to offer very high priority sits.

When To Hunt A Precision Whitetail Forecast

The reality is, that there are very few high quality days to hunt during the rut each year, and rarely are there more than 2-4 days in a row. There are several factors that you need to look for, to make sure that you are making the most out of your days off, and overall 2015 Whitetail Rut effort:

*The value of a major cold front is increased when it is preceded by several days of stable weather. When you see an October 17-22nd period of daytime forecasted highs of 71,73,69,72,71,54...I urge you to do all that you can to be in the woods following the 17 degree temperature drop! Another aspect of temperature drops is that it is all relative. What I mean by that is that although a 15 degree drop from 60 to 45 daytime highs is better than a 15 degree drop from 75 to 60; it really isn't that much better because it is still a 15 degree temp drop!

*The greater the cold front is, often times the greater the wind speeds are and the general level of noise in the woods. Cold fronts are a stressful time for deer! Crashing trees, breaking branches, wind, rain and snow all contribute to a loss of demishing energy reserves for deer. Also, deer feed 5 times in a 24 hours period. During a major front deer will stay hunkered down within their daytime bedding areas and miss the opportunity to feed heavily under the cover of darkness in their most preferred food sources. Stress, lack of food and increasingly cold temperatures equal a triple-threat of energy depletion that needs to be fed!

*The calm and cold period after the front has just passed, is the perfect time to sit in the woods in early October, let alone during the pre-rut and rut. After the rut the reverse takes place, as deer typically feed heavily before a major storm, and then conserve energy during the first day or two of calm and cold temperatures directly after the front.

*The first day following the storm is the best day and there is a good reason why. If you were stranded in the woods for several days with no food, you would be extremely hungry! In fact you would most likely eat as much food as possible as soon as you were rescued. However, would you stuff your face with the same amount of food the next day? What about the 3rd day? You can expect the first day to be outstanding, and then the quality of the hunting opportunity declinining and leveling off during stable conditions until the next cold front comes through. If you are planting food plots, make sure that you focus your efforts to offer as much food during the October and November cold fronts with Plantings That Specifically Target this period of time. And if you are hunting public land, finding food sources that match the season will offer a major advantage to you!

This is one of my favorite ways create an opportunity for a rut-cruising monster on dry parcels!

*Starting during the early bow seasons in September and until about the last 10 days of October you can expect a quality cold front to bring quality food-related hunting opportunities. But once you near the 20th of October, expect mature bucks to become extremely active for brief periods of time within their core areas following a cold front. The level of activity as well as an expansion of rutting activity outside of a mature bucks core area will increase well into the middle of the rut! I have for the most part hunted only cold fronts since the early 90s and I have been greatly rewarded. Cold front hunting will produce a rollercoaster of brief quality sits, sandwiched between longer periods of poor sit opportunities. In some cases I have experienced that a given stand when used during a calm and cold morning could produce shot opportunities on a mature buck 30-40% of the time, while at other times that same stand could offer success less than 3% of the time. When you add it all up, 3 weeks of low quality sits won't make up for missing a long weekend of high quality sits!

Timeline of Mature Buck Harvest Hot Spots

Leading up to the rut, there are still many high quality periods of time to harvest a mature buck! If you are waiting until that "magical" period of time to shoot the the local giant that you are after, you will have missed several extremely high quality opportunities to harvest him along the way.

1. Late Summer Boredom

Until Summer food sources mature, and hardwood canopies open-up and lose their cool daytime shadows, a mature buck experiences an incredibly lazy and stable existence unrivaled by any other time during the rest of the year. Mature bucks move very little from June to September, and as long as the security of their cover, and quality of their evening food sources remain unchanged-why would they need to? But a huge change is on the horizon!

2. The "Shift"

Beans begin to mature, native forages are slowly disappearing, and the nutrition and attraction of alfalfa is being shattered with the first late Summer frosts. This is the time of year where the savvy land manager has hopefully prepared for, and the public land hunter has pre-scouted within a hidden Fall honey hole.

A seasoned monster rarely lives during the Summer, where he lives during the Fall. During the Summer he enjoys the shade, canopy and open air-flow of a mature hardwood hangout, as well as a nearby Summer food source. However when the temparatures of Fall are on the doorstep, he often re-locates to his hunting season hangout. Is he then on your property...or on your neighbors? If you have outstanding Fall cover and food than my bet is that he will be on your property, where he will begin to establish is cool-season core area.

Click here to read more about The Shift: Annual Whitetail Habitat Shift Guide

3. Core Area Opportunities

The beginning of the rut is still 3-4 weeks away and many of your neighbors may be waiting for the seemingly easy pickings of the mid-rut. But why wait? If you have a mature buck present that has established his core area in and around your parcel the time to kill him is now...not later. A buck that has established his core area on your parcel will offer game cam pictures frequently and close to shooting hours. A non-core area monarch may have been a star of the woods during the months of Summer, but he will soon become extremely shutter shy! Why? Because his core area is on another parcel that carries a higher level of quality Fall food and cover. Often what appears to be a shift in nocturnal movements to start the bow season is really just that the buck you watched all Summer-long has re-located to his preferred Fall habitat.

With each passing cold front, you will be blessed with oustanding opportunities to potentially harvest a great core-area buck while he follows the rollercoaster of feeding presented to you through the weather changes of the early season. Is October 7th generally a great time to hunt? Not really. However, if you procede 10/7 with a 23 degree temperature drop, heavy winds and hard rains or snow; a 10/7 hunt with high pressure, blue skies, light winds and cold temps can offer an INCREDIBLE sit! The good news is that the "October Lull" pattern of feeding and opportunity will continue and be valued parallel to the harshness of each weather transition. If you have a core area target buck on your parcel, do your best not to miss the incredible opportunity to hunt him early! As long as an October buck's food, cover and security stays consistent he isn't going anywhere until deeper into the rut as his focus shifts elsewhere, or if you spook him away.

Click here to read: Cor Mature Buck Hunting Guide

4. Pre Rut High Value Sits

"Nothing is happening". "The rut hasn't started yet". "The big boys aren't on their feet yet". Those are all common thoughts during October, but if you have a core-area buck near or within the acreage that you hunt, there is nothing that will hold his annual urges down when his pre-rut juices start to take hold. The only problem is that if is living 3 parcels away, it isn't your time to harvest him yet unless your neighbor is practicing sloppy huning tactics and bumps him your way. Rubs, scrapes and even a little chasing will fill the several acres that surround a giant's bedding area as soon as the first cold fronts hit during the last 10 days of October. An experienced buck has no problem picking up one of the first does to experience estrus within his core area, and he will begin laying down a prolific amount of sign! He will spend a few days with his first doe, and although the next doe he finds will probably be a little tougher to locate, she will still most likely be located near his core area. If you are waiting for a buck to come to you from another parcel this could be exactly why the pre-rut just isn't happening for you yet. It is for this reason that I have experienced that while the rut may appear non-existent in one location, it can be going nuts on a parcel only a mile away.

As each weather front passes, yet another opportunity presents itself to shoot a mature buck. When the pre-rut hits, morninig hunts can be an incredible time to hit the woods for a calm, cold sit! The first "pre-rut" opportunity is typically around the 20th of October with a passing front, and often takes place multiple times within the last 10 days of October. The larger the temperature drop, the better! As each front passes, the quality of the hunting will continue to improve -until- the period of the middle of the rut reduces the activity levels to a flat line that will soon be drastically decreasing.

Click here to read: Whitetail Pre Rut Hunting Guide

5. 2015 Mid Rut Gambles

Depending on the area of the north 1/2 of the country that you hunt in, the middle of the rut could fall anywhere between early to mid-November, starting about 10 days after the first signs of a pre-rutting monster within his established, core hunting season location. This is the period of time when a lot of folks are just entering the woods, but unfortunately have already missed some outstanding hunting opportunities depending on the number of core bucks they that have had available within the areas that they hunt. I am fortunate to live, work and hunt within one of the best areas of the country when it comes to monster whitetails. I am not sure that I fully agree with this statement, but there is a thought around here that I have heard from multiple, accomplished mature big-buck hunters that goes something like this, "The best mature buck hunters consistently kill their bucks in October". Of course this depends on your ability to control or take advantage of the habitat on your parcel, your individual resources to hunt the best weather days to be in the woods and how far that you actually live from your parcel, but I can see their point. If there are mature bucks in the woods you hunt, why wait? However for those that either have to wait or want to wait...the mid-rut can be a great time to gamble on consistent quality opportunities!

I say "gamble" because once a seasoned buck has experienced 1-2 estrus does within his own core area, he begins to establish a "3 mile home range" that is often reported. He will still have the taste of the rut, and will often search long and hard for his last doe or two of the first rutting period. Sure, he may travel the vast majority of those acres under the cover of darkness, but as the rut deminished to the later 1/2 and especially the last few days, he may cruise heavily; even during the daytime. If you are hunting a core area buck, this is the time when he has the best chance to leave your parcel, and if you are hunting a non-core area buck this is the period of time that you can gamble on him showing up on your parcel.


A mature buck goes from Summer boredom, to October feeding frenzies, to the beginning of the rut and finally through the mid-rut on his way to a steady decline of daytime activity. Each peak of activity in my experience is directly a result of every passing cold-front from the bow season opener to the start of most gun seasons. Of course each period of feeding and rutting activity has their value, and I like to think of that value in terms of a scale from 1-10 like this:

*Early Season (Mid-Sept to the 20th of Oct) Weather Feeding Frenzies-"4"
*Pre-Rut to Start of Rut (Last week of October to First week of November) Toe-Numbing Mornings-"10"
*Pre-Rut to Start of Rut Late Afternoons-"6"
*Mid-Rut to End of Rut (First 3 weeks of November) All Day Sits-"7"

This is worth repeating and something that I personally live by! I also encourage my friends, family and clients to hunt with the same motto to "Never burn out a 35% opportunity sit, for a 5% opportunity sit!

I encourage you to try and hunt the 2015 Whitetail Rut weather patterns of high potential mature buck observations. I have greatly enjoyed this experience of mature buck feeding and rut-related movements for nearly 30 years! As I continue to hone my efforts to capture the hard-hitting high level opportunities discussed in this rut forecast, I enjoy an ever-increasing level of consistently predictable success, I hope that you can too. Is any rut prediction perfect? No. However, it has been proven to me 100s of times over that you can heavily tilt the odds in your favor, and when you do so by following the weather patterns during the hot spots of mature buck harvest opportunity; the process of harvesting a particular mature buck becomes highly predictable.


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