Believe it or not, there is a pretty awesome way to determine when the rut will happen in your neck of the woods. You can go by regurgitated knowledge of specific dates which will most likely get you in the ballpark of the rut, but what about your property!?
If you ask any hunter that has been in the woods hunting Whitetail for more than a couple of years, they will tell you the best time for a big buck starts around Halloween and goes through the first two weeks of November. You can also bet your bottom dollar that most of them had less than desirable hunts during these times as well. Without taking three weeks off for the rut, when is the best time to hunt your property?
In general, the rut will be popping off at the same time for most of the region you are in but there is a trick you can use to narrow down your area’s activity. Before I go any further, I want to share a short story about my personal property and rut activity.
I purchased my property in 2020 with no prior knowledge of deer activity other than a couple of dead heads I found while scouting. In the first year of hunting, I took a doe early and then waited until Oct 28 to start hunting the bedding areas. To my surprise, activity was pretty low until late November. But wait…. the best time to hunt the rut is early to mid-November… Right!? Chucking it up that I just did not know the property yet, I made a note of rubs, scrapes, and rutting activity.
Fast forward to 2021 and the same thing was happening. I would see all my buddies post their buck pictures and I was still not seeing much rut activity. At one point in mid-November, I remember thinking to myself that my property was a bust. I bought a worthless piece of land only good for saying that I own some private land. Starting in late November, I again started to see an uptick in rut activity. Either I was getting the leftovers of the rut or indeed my area did not see the rut until later. Again, I noted the dates but this time I had trail cameras out to monitor every area of the property since late 2020.
I then learned that I would see fawns start to appear on camera in mid-July. I started to dig and this is where I found out that my rut times are indeed later. Better yet, I was able to narrow it down to about a week specific to my property. The first fawn showed up on camera around July 11. With some simple math and knowledge of the fawn and doe pregnancies, I could get really close to when the rut was at my property.
Calculating rut timeframes based on fawn activity
Depending on who you ask, doe are pregnant for 200 days, give or take a few days. Once a fawn is born, it will not move much for about 2-3 weeks. If we use general math, 200 + 21 days will give us 221 days from the last rut. There is some error in this but when you start to see fawn on camera, they have not been around for long. Take the first date you see a young fawn on camera and go back 221 days. In my case, the first sighting was July 11.
July 11th – 221 Days puts the conception of the fawn around November 25. This alone proved to me that my rut activity in my area is later in November. Before I put my faith in this logic, I kept track of these dates for the following hunting season and sure enough, the following season, conception was around Dec 2. Again, this made me more confident in the formula. I now know that my rut activity is more likely in late November to early December.
Perhaps the reason for a late rut in my area is due to my property location, or simply the entire area is late. No matter what the reasoning is, my property is almost 2-3 weeks later than everyone around me. While this is a good tool to narrow down your property, it is never a bad time to be in the woods. This logic has helped me adjust my hunting plans accordingly. I can now focus on out-of-state rut seasons and still make it back to my property with high confidence that I won’t be missing out on my home turf.
2023 Whitetail Rut Prediction Calulator
Being a nerd, I was inspired by an episode on the O2 PODCAST about predicting the rut using fawns. I decided I needed to put together a calculator here at Black Gate Hunting to help you figure out the rut activity at your property (using this logic). Use the calculator below to find out when the rut will be happening this year.
If you spot a really early fawn in person, you can subtract 21 days from the results of the calculator. The calculator assumes data collected is from using trail cameras. Maybe one day I will update the calculator with an option if the fawn was spotted in person but for now, enjoy!