What do you think dictates the rut start, photoperiod, weather, lunar cyle, or other.
2013 Rut Predictions – Prepare For A Late Whitetail Rut
Posted by Mark Kenyon on 02 Jul 2013
By Mark Kenyon:
The Super Bowl of the whitetail hunter’s season. The Big Kahuna. The moment we all wait for. The rut.
Nothing gets a whitetail hunter more excited than that magical time of year when big whitetail bucks lose their inhibitions, curl up their lips and chase females around like love-struck teenagers on prom night. I think we can all agree that “Sweet November” is a special time.
The rut is a time that offers unparelled opportunity for success, and for that reason we hunters have an unnatural obsession with everything about it. The timing. The intensity. The behaviors exhibited. The list goes on and on. But probably most debated and questioned are the predictions for the timing of each year’s rut.
As many of you know, each year Deer & Deer Hunting’s Charles Alsheimer releases a series of rut predictions based on a lunar calendar. We then at Wired To Hunt like to share those predictions, and compare them to those that others have. Today, we’ll be sharing the first phase of these rut predictions – that being the basics of what Alsheimer’s Lunar Calendar predicts for the 2013 rut.
But first – lets recap how Charles Alsheimer gets these predictions. Alsheimer and wildlife biologist Wayne Laroche have been studying the timing of the rut for 16 years now and they’ve found that it seems the key factor in kicking the rut into gear is the occurrence of the second full moon after the Autumn Equinox. According to the this theory, once this moon (which they call the “Rutting Moon”) hits, most doe’s estrus cycles kick into gear and the peak of the rut follows shortly.
So that said – when does the “Rutting Moon” hit this year and what will that mean for rutting activity?
The 2013 Rut Predictions
This year the “Rutting Moon” falls very late in the year, on November 17th! That’s compared to October 29th last year, and November 10th in 2011. What does this mean for the rut? It means, according to this theory, that the majority of rutting behavior will be significantly later than it has been the last two years.
According to Alsheimer’s Lunar Calendar, the peak of seeking and chasing behavior (in the North) should be from somewhere around November 14th through November 25th. Tending, AKA breeding, should peak somewhere around the 29th.
So what does this mean for hunters? If you tend to believe these predictions, it would mean that the typical “prime time” of the first week or two of November may be a little slower than usual. Hypothetically the third and fourth week should possibly provide even better activity.
When Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine releases their full article on Alsheimer’s predictions we’ll update this with more info, but for now the calendar dates are all we have to work with.
All that said, I’m still on the fence regarding these predictions. I’ve followed them for the past five years or so – and I must admit that I do see some kind of correlation. I’m a firm believer that the actual breeding for most whitetails in the Northern part of the country happens on a relatively consistent basis, numerous fawn fetus measurement tests have confirmed this. But – I do think that there might be some truth to the moon’s effect on visible, daylight rutting activity. Which in turn is what most impacts hunting success.
Will I change my planned hunting vacations to fit these dates? Probably not. But I’ll definitely be curious to see how things pan out.
Alternative Expert Rut Opinions
For some alternative views, last year we reached out to several other whitetail experts to get their thoughts on the timing of the rut (click here to read that full article), and they had some great insight to share. Here’s what a few folks shared with us…
Lindsay Thomas Jr, Communications Director for the Quality Deer Management Association, had this to say:
“The science on this is decisive. A significant number of scientific, peer-reviewed studies have shown the timing of the rut in any particular location is triggered by photoperiod, or day length – not by the moon, or temperature, or anything else…I think hunters often confuse visible rut behaviors, like chasing and grunting, with the peak of breeding. When you document breeding dates in a location, they actually change very little year to year, even though the dates of peak rut behaviors might vary. That’s because weather, moon phase and food sources – things that fluctuate widely year to year – affect deer movement patterns. But even when the weather reduces deer movement, you find that breeding still takes place the same time it normally does. If a doe is coming into estrous, a warm front isn’t going to change that.”
Bill Winke, prolific writer and creator of Midwest Whitetail, shared similar thoughts:
“I have not seen a rut predictor that was actually more accurate than the calendar. The rut is triggered by photoperiod – the amount of sunlight (number of hours) in each day. As the season progresses, that triggers the rut at pretty much the same time every year. You may see more behavior on certain days than others related to weather or hunting pressure, but the actual conception dates of the does are pretty consistent from year to year. Missouri recently did a study back-dating fetuses from late season harvested does and they proved that over a three year period the peak breeding date (the date when the most does were in estrous) was November 15 plus or minus one day. I always like to hunt during the week that starts ten days before the peak. In this case November 5 – 12. It is tough to beat that time frame. ”
Gordon Whittington, Editor in Chief of North American Whitetail Magazine, expressed a common sentiment:
“I suppose all of us have tried to use our own observations and experience to figure out when the rut is going to break loose in an area. But I’m the first to admit it’s really hard to do. No doubt we see more daytime buck movement some years than others, and the timing of it clearly varies somewhat. But it’s hard for me to say that’s directly correlated to breeding. I’ve seen little evidence that fawning dates vary widely from year to year, but no doubt the amount of chasing and tending behavior observed varies in both timing and intensity. I really don’t think it’s as simple as saying it’s controlled by the moon or weather. To me, it basically appears to be controlled by daylength.”