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The Rutting Moon and How it Can Impact Your Hunt

Summer Equinox:  around September 21st every year

Rutting Moon:  2nd full moon after the summer equinox

Highest Buck Activity: 2 days before the rutting moon - 7 days after the rutting moon

How does the moon impact the deer?

Here is the theory and how it applies to hunting northern whitetails:  The rutting moon triggers the does to go into estrus.  This is the key ingredient to buck activity.  The bucks can sense it and they react accordingly.

Two days prior to the rutting moon, buck daytime activity should start to pick up.  The bucks can sense that something is about to change.  The breeding season is approaching.  The bucks will pick up the pace and increase the number of scrapes and rubs they make.  If temperatures are cool, human activity is kept to a minimum and the buck to doe ratio is high, the buck activity will be high for the next 10 days.

Most does enter estrus 4-7 days after rutting moon.  Then the peak breeding phase starts.  This continues for about 14 days after the does went into estrus.

How should this impact your hunt? 

First, you should figure out when the rutting moon is.  The peak buck travel days will be 2 days prior to the rutting moon and 7 days following the rutting moon.  This is the time to be in the woods.  Bucks will be on the move and they'll be taking the path of least resistance.  So focus on heavy trails and funnels - ideally those where scrape lines are present.  Grunt calls and antler rattling will be the most effective during this high traffic phase.  Bucks are hot and they'll want to find out who the outsider is.

Once the breeding kicks in, change your focus to the does and the doe feeding areas.  Find the does and you'll find the bucks.  The bucks will be spending less time making scrapes and more time shacking up with the does.

Planning Your 2005 Hunt

Rutting moon in 2005 is November 16th.  So the peak buck activity will be November 14-23.  Sounds like we'll have a good 3rd rifle weekend in the great north woods of Minnesota!

In the end, it doesn't take a genius to say that the more time you spend in the woods, the more chances you'll have at bagging a nice buck.  But you might be able to tip the scale in your favor if you focus on the high buck activity dates triggered by the rutting moon.  Happy hunting!

Give credit where credit is due.  Much of this information was taken from Charles Alsheimer's article in the October 99 issue of Deer & Deer Hunting.  And I've seen it work!  Thanks Charles!