We’ve all read articles stressing the importance of sitting all day during the rut. For those of you who’ve experienced the phenomenon of a midday buck parade, you’ve likely got the program figured out. For anybody out there who’s spent countless midday hours watching nothing but squirrels, this article is for you.
There are two important factors that contribute to a productive all-day rut hunt, selecting a location in which deer are likely to spend the midday hours and picking a productive calendar day. To solve the second half of the equation, I reached out to avid bowhunters across the country to see what they had to say about their favorite dates to pull an all-day hunt.
Michael Hunsucker │ Heartland Bowhunter “Putting weather aside, if I had a three-day window to dedicate to an all-day rut hunt (in Missouri), I am taking the three days before rifle season opens. That week before, in general, is my favorite time to hunt because once rifle opens, it changes everything. Rutting activity is severely reduced due to extreme pressure in most of the state. This year, opening day of rifle season is the 12th of November. So, my pick would be November 9th through the 11th.”
Mark Haslam │ Southeast Whitetail “In the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, if I had to pick three calendar days, I’d choose October 20th, November 3rd, and November 14th. October 20th is when the first does in our herd hit a heat cycle. It’s a premier time to be in the woods. You will see bucks scent-checking scrapes and hunting does. Don’t worry about temperatures; neither heat cycles nor deer movement are impacted by warm temps.
November 3rd and 14th, most bucks seem to be up and moving throughout the day, searching for hot does. At this point, they’ll be running hard. I like to climb outside doe bedding sites, ideally between two thickets. Rattling in early mornings can be deadly. The key is to understand how they utilize your landscape during the breeding season. Essentially anytime from the third week in October to the second week in November is killer. However, if I had to only choose three consecutive days to hunt midday hours, I’d say October 20th through the 23rd.”
Josh Honeycutt │ Honeycutt Creative Wildlife Photography “Rut timelines vary throughout the country. In my opinion, the best days to hunt are the four to five days leading up to the start of the peak breeding window, regardless of where you hunt. HuntStand has a new Nationwide Rut Map app layer with that information, and so do many State Agencies.
I hunt mostly in central Kentucky and southern Ohio. In southern Ohio, I’ve seen the best chasing and overall daylight movement by mature bucks around November 2nd through the 5th. In central Kentucky, it seems to be around November 6th through the 10th, or more specifically, the five days leading up to the gun season opener, which usually falls on the second full week in November.”
Nathan Killen │ Virginia Mountain Man “November 8th through the 10th, if I had to choose just 3 days to kill a 3 ½-year-old or older. Those are peak cruising days, weather-depending. With that said, I’d choose whatever days the weather favored the best deer movement from mid-October through the first week of December.
Specifically for the older bucks, especially here in the mountains of Virginia, I’d choose the first week of December because they’re running out of does and out looking for the last remaining does cycling into estrus. During early December, I’ve seen older bucks that were never seen during season show up and get killed.”
Dan Johnson │ Sportsmen’s Empire “This is a difficult subject because, for the most part, people are limited to the amount of time that they can spend hunting. If the best possible days land on a weekday, some people just will never get the opportunity to hunt those days unless they have PTO or vacation to use. I would rather hunt the best spot possible, with the conditions that I have, based off the intel that I have. There are no best days to hunt, all days are good to hunt the rut. Just get in the woods any time in November and grind it out.”
For the most up-to-date rut reports from across the country, be sure to check out Rut Fresh Radio and the most recent Rut Fresh Report, updated weekly to give you the inside scoop on rut activity happening right now.
Feature image via Sam Soholt.