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                                                                  2021 Rut Report



Every year I look at my notes from years past and try to make sense of what we call “The best seven days of the year”.  These days that I am speaking of are “The Rut”.  I will always tell you that your best indicator of how your rut will be comes from data that you keep yourself.  There is no scientist that can tell you about Whitetail deer on your property better than yourself.  Our rut report is calculated over 11 years of journals and 11 years of photos kept.

 

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 catch 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, the only thing that you will do is bump those big bucks and push them deeper and deeper. Stay away from the bedding areas, 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 we are looking to make the big dominant bucks feel safe and comfortable, do not over hunt your land.  If you think it may be a bad day to hunt because of wind or weather, stay home that day, and get some rest.  Think about the days coming up and plan accordingly, get a good game plan.

 

Phase 2    October 13 – October 24

Get ready can you feel it, for 2021 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.  Therefore 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.  Playing the wind is a huge part of this phase, wrong wind and your big buck just busted you and may start moving out of the area, because rut is right around the corner.  We know mature bucks move during rut, don’t let him bust you to early.

 
(tactics: mock scrape, afternoon sits will be better, doe call)

 

 
Phase 3 October 25 – November 8  

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 off my personal experience, not some lab with a bunch of doctors in it.  I do believe in the fawn drop dates to play a massive roll in the whitetail rut.  Fawns for their own safety must 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 199 days for birth which puts breeding at around the 16th- 30th of November in the majority of does.  Phase 3 is going to be the best chance at putting a mature whitetail on the ground.  With going back in our journals, this year’s rut will be the same as 2015.  With the full moon hitting on November 19th the Seek Phase will begin right around November 2nd.  The Seek Phase will be strong this year even if it is warm out bucks will be putting on mileage looking for the does.  Right around the 7th of November the Chase Phase will begin.  Bucks will have pushed all the does out of the bedding areas and this will be 6 days of pushing and chasing.  If your buck to doe ratio is solid look for multiple bucks chasing the same do, with fighting and sparing taking place.  These will be the days that all day sits on your best stands should take place. 
If you have seven days to hunt, the best 10 days of the year will be from November 1 to November 11th (NOTE:  A Super new moon will occur on November 4th, this will be when the moon is the closest to earth.  Deer activity is very strong in the morning on this day and will dwindle through out the day.)

 (tactics: Grunting (doe and buck), rattling, doe scent, buck decoy)

 

Phase 4    November 9th – November 23th

This is the final phase in the true rut, bucks will be running with the does that they have selected waiting for the does to become receptive to breeding.  This phase will truly test your patience as a hunter.  We have all seen it where a buck is just out of range hanging with a doe and if the doe leaves so does the buck.  Food sources are a big part of the hunt now.  One tip that helps in this phase is to hunt the doe and wait for the buck.  What I mean by that is go to your doe honey hole and that buck will be on her tail just waiting for her.  This will be a tough phase to hunt if you have more doe than bucks.  If you have a doe decoy, put it out in the food source and watch the edges as the doe bust out into the food, if the does get close enough to the decoy that big buck may come in to check out the decoy.  One key note is the full moon will be on November 19th, true or not we have seen activity pick up +/- 3 days to a full moon. FYI Gun season will hit on the day after the full moon, this could be a great start to the gun season.

  
(tactics: doe bleat, food source, doe scent, doe decoy)

 
Phase 5   November 23rd – December 3rd  

Phase 5 is the hardest phase of them all, known as 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 boring.  There are a few bright spots in this phase.  First with gun season in full swing 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 doe 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.  Bucks will be tired and not in the mood for other bucks so do not rattle in this phase.  Bucks will be on the move in the morning and will stay out a little longer finding the right food source.     Good luck and be safe.

 
(tactics: doe bleat, hunt edges of food source, do not rattle)  

Mike Coulthard