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2020 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. This year will be a special one, with 2 full moons in the month of October. The “Blue Moon” will hit on October 31st.
Phase 1 October 1- October 12
With big bucks knowing their surroundings 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. Think about the days coming up and plan accordingly. This year you will have a full moon on Oct 1, this moon will make the bigger bucks move a ton at night. Hang tight the good stuff is coming
TACTICS FOR PHASE 1
No morning hunts
Stay out of sanctuary where big bucks are laying low
Phase 2 October 13th – October 28th
Get ready can you feel it, for 2020 this stretch 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 hot spot 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 into the Staging Areas. These areas are back off your food source, where mature bucks can survey the situation. By moving a stand back into these areas, you will have a chance to see that monster you have on camera. If you sit over a food source you will have a chance of getting busted by this same buck when you are getting down at dark. With the peak so close do not over play your hand.
Tactics for Phase 2
Mock Scrapes (Wags Intruder buck scent is the best for mock scrapes)
Afternoon sits will be better, but with the right condition mornings might work.
Tickle of the Rattling horns (no full out clash)
Phase 3 October 29th – November 5th (Seek Phase)
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. This year we will see a second full moon on October 31st, this is called “Blue Moon“. This happens every 2-3 years and this year it hits perfect for rut. With the full moon on October 31st, and its peak illumination will be at 10:51 AM, and the moon will be underfoot at 12:50 PM this is our “PERFECT STORM”. This stage will be where you can pull out all the stops and throw the kitchen sink at these big bucks. I believe this year; will be the best we have seen in a few years. This is going to be the phase you will want to sit all day. Sunup to sundown will yield you great results.
Tactics for Phase 3
Buck and doe grunting
Phase 4 November 6th - 13th (Chase phase)
This year you will not even notice the difference in Phases 3 and 4. The change over will be so subtle that one would think there is no Phase 4. The difference will be now you need to get on the does. Bucks will be on their tails and if a hot doe is coming through, there will be a buck on it. Fighting and sparing is almost done with smaller bucks getting their butts kicked already they will be loners. Does will be sketchy around the food source but will come to it. Using a doe call and scent is going to be a huge plus in this phase. Using a drag rope going in will cover your scent and increase chances that a buck will cross that path. Roll into the woods at around 9:30 in the morning and sit the rest of the day. Bucks will be traveling mid-day this year running the does. If you are going to hunt early morning, get in the stand an hour before daybreak. You do not want to bump a mature buck that is cruising early.
Tactics for phase 4
We at wisconsinbowhunters.com have tracked this for years. It is not a perfect science, and if the weather is to warm it will slow rut down. In our eyes the perfect 7 days for your “Rutcation” is October 31st till November 6th. Good luck and stay safe.