2018 Rut Report for Wisconsin
Phase 1 October 1- October 12
With big bucks knowing their surrounds and time of the year, they will be pushing the smaller bucks off so they can sleep during the day and feed at night. This is the time when you want to hunt for your herd control. If you have a large crop of does, this is the time to thin them out. Most everyone wants to try and move closer to the bedding area and try to caught a buck by surprise. For most this sounds like a great idea, and one that will reap rewards. Wrong for phase 1 stay away from morning hunts for another week or so, stay away from the bedding areas in, letting the dominant bucks feel safe is your main goal. Hunt the food sources, every now and then a mature buck will peak his head out early, trying to make sure he has pushed all the small bucks out. In phase 1 this is when you put some heavy bone on the ground.
Phase 2 October 13 – October 25
Get ready can you feel it, for 2018 this week will be the toughest you will ever endure. As a hunter I know the feeling, you hear from everyone that the bucks are starting to scrape and you should be in your hotspot waiting for the big buck to come cruising down. This is where you are wrong, yes the smaller bucks are scraping, but this is only to get a jump start on the mature bucks. Smaller bucks will run the edges of the food source trying to mark their spot. This is why you will see scrapes around this time of the month. Mark it down and remember this spot you will need it in phase 3. In phase 2 you want to start moving off the food sources and get a little more into the woods. With the smaller bucks running the does off the food, your best chance at a mature whitetail is hoping that he gets up to run a doe that comes close to him. The juices are not flowing full yet, but like any bachelor, why pass it up when it is right in front of you. (tactics: mock scrape, afternoon sits will be better, doe call)
Phase 3 October 26 – November 9
Now this is where I differ from many people on the rut, the experts and I really do not see eye to eye on this. I truly believe in the effect that the moon has on not only whitetail deer, but everything on this earth. For instance, if you are a dog owner, watch your dog when there is a full moon. He or she is more alert to things they tend to be more on edge, their attitude changes. Again I am going of my personal experience, not some lab with a bunch of doctors in it. That being said I do believe in the fawn drop dates to play a massive roll in the whitetail rut. Fawns for their own safety have to be dropped in a 2 week window every year at the same time. There are cases of a young doe being bred late in the year. If you look at your older does, their fawns are out of spots by the first part of October and the winter coats have taken over. Gestation period is 7 ½ months for birth which puts breeding at around the 16th- 30th of November in the majority of does. That being said phase 3 is going to be the best chance at putting a mature whitetail on the ground. Usually the window for phase 3 would be shorter, but this is where the moon comes into play. With the second full moon after fall Equinox falling on Oct 24, the worst words a hunter wants to hear is, this year will be a trickle rut in Wisconsin. That’s right a trickle rut will be in play. With a trickle rut the seek phase and chasing phase will blend together and will not be noticed when it changes. If you have 5 days off, your best days of the year will be October 25 through the 30th. I went back in my journals and this will be similar to 2013. After the 30th deer movement will be slow at times, but then will ramp up again, it will be hit or miss moving into November. Again other things come into play, and the only true way of knowing your rut is to keep journals year to year. (tactics: Grunting (doe and buck), rattling, doe scent, buck decoy)
Phase 4 November 10th – 15th
This is the final phase in the true rut, the last couple of does to come into Estrous will be getting pinned down. The one good thing about phase 4 is if you have a doe that has not been bred there will be a bunch of bucks chasing. This phase is a true hit or miss, and will only be good if your buck to doe ratio is in check. (tactics: doe bleat, rattling, doe scent, doe decoy)
Phase 5 November 16th – November 30th
Phase 5 is the hardest phase of them all, known at the breeding phase or as I like to say lockdown phase. The bucks will have their mates locked down for a little over 24 hours and if you are in the woods this can be pretty boring. There are a few bright spots in this phase. First with gun season kicking off there is a lot of hunting pressure so with hunters moving around this will kick some of those bucks up and out of the bed. Second when the doe is finally bred, that buck will be back up looking for other does. With his energy spent from a long month of running, he will be trying to find the easy does and food source will be the best chance for him, and for the hunter. Get over the food source or on the edges, bucks will be skittish and will sit on the edges to survey the situation. If you are in the right place at the right time you will bag yourself a great buck. Good luck and be safe. (tactics: doe bleat, hunt edges of food source, do not rattle)
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