It’s getting close to every deer hunter’s favorite time of the year! We are all like little kids waiting on Christmas morning to get here. Yes, I’m talking about the rut. Many of us plan our vacations around rut predictions, or maybe we just plan it for the exact same time every year. A lot of hunters pay no attention to all of those rut predictions, because they believe that the rut happens at the exact same time each and every year, no matter what.
But, apparently there is also a very large number of hunters who pay close attention to what the experts say about the rut. They wait for, and live by the annual rut predictions. I mean, why else would there be so many articles about it? And, don’t forget all the annual rut calendars, guides, etc. And, personally, I believe even those die hard “the rut happens at the exact same time every year” hunters look forward to reading all of the rut predictions.
In “Moonlight Madness: The Effect of the Moon on Whitetail Deer” I discussed some of the moon theories. I won’t go into depth here about these, because this isn’t about the theories; it’s about when to hunt! I have read through all the rut predictions and theories, and have broken it all down for you here. I’ll start with a brief review of the theories and then give you those all-important best dates to hunt!
There are so many theories about the rut; sometimes it can be a little overwhelming! One of the most popular theories is that the moon controls the rut. And, even with that said, there are two different, but very popular, moon theories. The first, and most popular, comes from Charles Alsheimer and Wayne Laroche. Each year Deer & Deer Hunting puts out their Whitetail Calendar which is produced by these two experts. Alsheimer and Laroche have spent numerous years studying the rut and the moon, and if you are a hunter, then you already know that they are strong believers in the rutting moon theory. And, according to Alsheimer and Laroche the rut is triggered by the second full moon after the autumnal equinox.
Okay, so the second moon theory was popularized in Moon Struck by Jeff Murray, and it is based largely on the overhead and underfoot phases of the moon. This is also known as the red moon theory. While there is no annual calendar to buy, there is the annual Deer Hunters’ Moon Guide. This guide gives you the red moon days as well as the best times to hunt on those days.
Now for those of you who believe the rut is the same year after year regardless of what the moon is doing or where it is in the sky, here you go. There definitely is no calendar to buy, no guide to follow. You know exactly when the rut is, and it’s always the same for you. There is no guess work in it; it is 100% consistent every single year. Yes, there is a lot of support for this theory. As I mentioned in “Moonlight Madness: The Effect of the Moon on Whitetail Deer”, the QDMA (Quality Deer Management Association) is a strong proponent of this theory. And, they are not alone; a lot of the expert hunters tend to agree with this.
Yes, there are a few other minor theories out there. But, for the most part, it comes down to believing in the moon or believing that it’s always the same. So, now I’ll give you those dates I promised earlier.
Consistent Rut Believers
First up, for those of you who believe the rut is always the same. Well, if you believe this theory, you might be surprised! According to the study conducted by the QDMA, the best dates for you are always:
The last two weeks of November and the first week of December.
Yep, that’s right! A little later than you expected? I’m willing to bet your answer is yes. I hear a lot of hunters say that full rut is always the first two weeks of November. But, according to the QDMA and several studies, does will not come into full estrous until the last week of November. Keep in mind that this theory is based on conception dates, not seeking or chasing. These dates would be tending days, which we all know are the worst days to hunt. So, I would suggest getting out there a little earlier.
Alsheimer & Laroche Theory Prime Days
According to these guys, it happens just a little earlier. Alsheimer and Laroche break the rut down into phases. And, as some of these phases overlap, they have broken it down ever farther into major and minor phases. So, here are those dates along with the phases/types:
Date Major Minor
November 7 Seeking
November 8 Seeking
November 9 Seeking
November 10 Seeking
November 11 Seeking
November 12 Seeking Chasing
November 13 Seeking Chasing
November 14 Chasing Seeking
November 15 Chasing Seeking
November 16 Chasing Tending
November 17 Chasing Tending
November 18 Chasing Tending
November 19 Chasing Tending
November 20 Chasing Tending
November 21 Tending Chasing
November 22 Tending Chasing
November 23 Tending Chasing
November 24 Tending Chasing
November 25 Tending Chasing
November 26 Tending Chasing
November 27 Tending Chasing
November 28 Tending Chasing
November 29 Tending Chasing
November 30 Resting
November 31 Resting
RED MOON THEORY
Last up is the red moon theory. This is broken down by prime dates and times, with best times given for morning and afternoon/evening hunts. It also goes one step further by identifying the best place to be hunting during these times. I have also specified the preferred time for each day. So, let’s see what the 2016 Moon Guide has to say. And, remember these are just the red moon days.
Date A.M. Time/Location P.M. Time/Location
November 3(P) 3:41/Bedding Areas 4:03/Field Edges/Transition Zones
November 4(P) 4:28/Bedding Areas 4:51/Field Edges
November 5(P) 5:17/Bedding Areas 5:41/Field Edges
November 6(P) 5:06/Bedding Areas 5:30/Field Edges
November 7(P) 5:55/Bedding Areas 6:20/Field Edges
November 8(P) 6:45/Bedding Areas 7:10/Field Edges/Transition Zones
November 18(A) 3:42/Bedding Areas 4:07/ Field Edges/Transition Zones
November 19(A) 4:38/Bedding Areas 5:03/Field Edges
November 20(A) 5:30/Bedding Areas 5:55/Field Edges
November 21(A) 6:19/Bedding Areas 6:44/Field Edges
November 22(A) 7:05/Bedding Areas 7:31/ Field Edges/Transition Zones
As you can see, according to the Moon Guide the number of prime days is far more limited. And, please note there is so much more to this theory than just knowing the prime dates and times. If you want to learn more, I would suggest investing in Moonstruck by Jeff Murray.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE RUT
Alright, so I have given you the most popular theories and the rut predictions centered around them. And if you notice, they really don’t vary all that much as far as overall dates. However, the two moon theories are significantly different, as the moon guide suggests November 21-November 22 as prime days while Alsheimer and Laroche list these as major tending days.
So, that’s the look at the most popular 2016 rut predictions and theories. And, regardless of your beliefs, it looks like the majority of us 2016 deer hunters will be hitting the woods around the same time. As for 2017, we will just have to wait and see what the experts predict.
What are your thoughts? Does the rut always happen at the same time? Or, can the moon change everything? I’d love to hear what you think!