2008 Prime-Time Rut Predictions

In the

"This year’s rutting moon (second full moon after the autumn equinox) is Nov. 13. Unlike last year, when the rutting moon fell on Oct. 26 and saw prime rutting activity occurring in early November, this year’s rutting action will likely take place from Nov. 10 to the end of the month in the North. With this in mind, let’s look at how the 2008 rut will unfold north of the 35th latitude.

"1. Seeking phase. Two or three days before the full moon on Nov. 13, the rut’s seeking phase will ramp up and be evident by the increase in daytime buck activity. In more populated areas, you’ll be tipped off by the increased number of deer-vehicle collisions.

"2. Chasing phase. By Nov. 15, it will be obvious the chase phase has started. Chasing should be intense by the 17th or 18th … if your area has a good adult-doe-to-antlered-buck-ratio and a healthy population of mature bucks in the herd. That means a lot of big bucks seasons open across the country.
When competition exists for breeding rights, it nearly always equates to greater rutting behavior in the form of rubbing, scraping, chasing and fighting. This phase of the rut is, without question, my favorite time to hunt.

"3. Breeding phase. Breeding will be noticeable from Nov. 18 to 28, with peak breeding occurring around Nov. 23."

2008 Rut Prediction for the South

"Predicting the timing of the Southern whitetail rut has proven to be much more difficult than the North. Whitetails living in locales south of the 35th latitude don’t face the harsh winters and brutal conditions that dictate when Northern white-tailed fawns must be born to ensure they are large enough to survive severe winters.

"Harsh cold and deep snow aren’t part of the Southern equation, so weather isn’t as great a factor for fawn births. Therefore, the South’s rut appears to be driven by less obvious factors, such as climate, genetics, nutrition, doe-to-buck ratios, day-length and moon phases.

"States like Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas have different rut dates, depending on where you are in the respective state. However, after years of studying data from Southern sources, Laroche and I are confident that wherever you are in the South, the rut is still cued by the full moon. The trick is determining whether the cue is the October, November, December or January full moon.     

"For example, Texas has two distinct rutting periods: November in the northern part of the state, and in December in the southern half. So, for this year, the north Texas rutting moon would be Nov. 13. In South Texas, it will be Dec. 12.

"Therefore, it is crucial to have a handle on which month breeding occurs for a given Southern location. Once this is known, determine the full moon that occurs during that timeframe. Consider this full moon the rutting moon for that given area."