Bob, when does the rut peak in my area?
QUESTION: Bob, I live in Boonville, MO and would to know when the rut in my area will occur, or what environmental conditions must exist to trigger the rut? - Tom S.
QUESTION: Hi Bob. We hunt McConnells, SC and occasionally down on SR 200 in the Great Falls area. I haven't been noticing a lot of deer movement this year. I hunt good areas but can you tell me when the best breeding dates are for these areas or provide me a contact to obtain that information. It seems I’m spending numerous hours and vacation days not to see deer. Please help! - John M.
ANSWER: We usually don’t answer regionally-specific questions, but as both of yours’ are applicable to hunters from all over the whitetail’s realm. I’ll give enough info to help you and everyone else who might have similar questions.
Several years ago I did a feature article for Buckmasters on rut timing in various parts of the country. In researching the story I contacted deer biologists from each state asking when their peak rut occurred.
Answers varied, but all agreed that peak breeding occurs at the same time every year, regardless of moon phase or position, hunting pressure or environmental factors like weather and temperature.
Knowing those dates can help, sometimes. Warm temperatures, hunting pressure, population size or highly skewed age or sex ratios are just some of the things that can have a significant impact on the degree of rut-related activity a hunter actually observes during the rut.
For example, the biologists in my state (Maine) tell me my region has a healthy population with good sex ratio and buck age structure, though hunting pressure is a bit high. I don’t witness rutting behavior, such as seeking, chasing and tending every year, but I know it occurs. In most of the other states I hunt, I see these things every year if I hunt during the rut.
First, I suggest contacting your regional state wildlife biologist, then your state deer biologist for peak rut dates and other information.
Second, I recommend examining all other potential variables and try to find the lowest hole in the bucket. When all the pieces fall into place, it can be a very exciting time to be in the woods.
Every whitetail hunter should bookmark this link. It’s a .pdf file displaying dates of the rut and rut maps from different regions.