BIG DEER Annual Report: Best Moon & Rut Days to Hunt 2012

Yesterday buddy Mark Drury and I compared calendars and notes and came up with our annual prediction of the best days to shoot a monster this fall. This is setting up to be a tricky year (the full moons are late in the rut months) and we took into account the epic drought and EHD outbreaks (Mark has found 13 dead deer on one of his farms so far and he’s worried).

We generally don’t talk about the September full moon, but Mark believes it is significant this year. With corn burned up and the soybeans barely hanging on in drought-stricken areas, deer patterns to and from feed will change, sometimes drastically. If your bow season opens in September, and if you have a green food source to watch (fall food plot, forbs in a hay field near a pond or creek, etc.) Mark believes you have an awesome big-buck opportunity: “should be great deer movement around green feed the 5 days prior to the full moon September 30.” I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it makes sense with this drought. If you have green feed and your season is open in September, you might want to take your vacation super early. I add that if you get rains in September that green up the feed, your chances will be better than ever.

Based on the full moon October 29, we predict good to great deer movement October 24 to November 4. This is one of our favorite windows to hunt any year. This year the full moon will kick bucks into scraping and prowling in late October, and as it wanes, bucks should seek does hard those first days of November, which “will be the best week to grunt and rattle,” says Mark. If you have the flexibility during this 12-day window, watch the weather and be sure to hunt the 2-3crisp, high-pressure days after a dry or wet cold front moves through. Bucks should really move.

Over the years, there have been more record-book bucks shot November 8-12 than any other days; that week will be great again in 2012. With the moon moving toward dark on the 13th, expect to see the most bucks at dawn/dusk, though a stud on the prowl for a hot doe might come through at 11:00 am. Sit all day.

Most biologists say deer movements/sightings and rutting activity fluctuate with the weather, acorn crops, pressure, etc., but actual breeding dates are amazingly consistent from year to year in any given location, regardless of moon phase. I agree with that—if your peak breeding (lockdown) has always been around November 15, it will be close to that again. BUT, both Mark and I are more adamant than ever that bucks move more and harder during a “rut full moon” than during the darker phases. That’s way we think giants will fall Halloween week.

As for the full orb November 28, I am not putting much stock in it. Some bucks will still prowl for the last does, but the rut is winding down and there has been a little to a lot of pressure in most areas. Some big deer will be killed, though the hunting will be hit or miss and helter-skelter.

If you have any preductions, tell us. And at the end of season write me and tell me if our predictions helped you out. Good luck. comment

Scott from MI's Gravatar Its always a little off where i hunt in MI. Dont know if thats because we are a little more north? Hard to tell whats going to happen around
here. All the corn fields around us are irrigated and look great, nice tall and green. Our 2.5 acer clover plot looks pretty good too! Im
not really sure what to expect. I was planning on taking Nov. 3rd thu 6th to hunt the rut you have me thinking :)
# Posted By Scott from MI | 8/22/12 7:05 PM
David in NC's Gravatar I'll be hunting out of state from Oct. 30th to Nov. 6th. If your predictions are correct I think that could be a great time.
# Posted By David in NC | 8/22/12 10:52 PM
Andy @ Bow Hunting Maryland's Gravatar I have always found that rut is slightly different on central Maryland than on the eastern shore or western Maryland. Central Maryland's rut always seems to follow a little later than the other sides of the state and largely follows close to central Virginia's rut.

Halloween day has always and will always be one of my favorite days to see deer up and moving out of their comfort zones. I have seen and killed deer that day that are deer I hadn't seen in the area before.

last year Halloween was good, but it turned out Thanksgiving day was the day we got trail cam photo's of 3 different bucks while we were sitting at the family dinner.. Should of been hunting!

I think that here in the Mid-Atlantic Mike and Mark's guessing will largely be correct.

But Mike, I think that November moon may be more productive than you think. Between most gun seasons opening up around than, if you have a low pressure area with a good number of does, even if the area doesn't hold bucks year round, you might just have your honey hole so to speak. Between that late full moon and the last of the big boys out looking for the does that haven't been creed, hunting pressure, and the dwindling food sources by that time, given the right area you could see multiple bucks still after does and have some great hunting.

Otherwise I totally have to agree and will be in my treestand a large percent of those dates!

Good Luck everyone, only 2 weeks from Friday here and Maryland and we can hit the woods :-)
# Posted By Andy @ Bow Hunting Maryland | 8/23/12 12:36 AM
Danny's Gravatar I think it has more to do with the amount of daylight (shorter days) than it does with the timing of the full moon.
However, I believe that they will chase all night during a full moon which may result in less movement during the day.
In my area it has been consistant over the last 15 years. The bigger bucks will be chasing the 2nd week of November.
It can be warm with a full moon, or cold with a new moon. It doesn't matter, if the does are hot, there will be chasing.
And the does always seem to be hot during the 2nd week of November.
# Posted By Danny | 8/23/12 10:30 AM
flatlander's Gravatar I agree Danny, when they're in they are in, we seem to have no movement during the full moon phase, it's killed more vacation time for me in the past than anything, now try to plan anytime in early November around the dark moon........ full moon shows trail cams pics of deer moving allot about an hour and a half before daylight, then a little mid day movement and thats about it........... so I'm betting Nov 9,10,11 will be super won't keep me from going out on Oct 31 though.........can kill one from an easy chair, but I like a dark moon, crisp morning below 32 degrees with a 5 mph wind
# Posted By flatlander | 8/23/12 11:34 AM
Cary Dion's Gravatar I will leave San Diego on Oct. 24th for Southern Illinois and hunt until Nov. 24th with both bow and gun with a rifle hunt to Nebraska
thrown in for good measure. I will be hunting hard morning and evenings regardless of what the moon is doing or whether the rut is
on or not. Hard core persistance is the key.
# Posted By Cary Dion | 8/23/12 1:39 PM
Rodger's Gravatar Danny and Flatlander, I agree. I've never had luck in a full moom cycle. Deer move all right, but in the middle of the night. And yes, it is the amount of daylight rather than the moom phase that kicks off the rut. I've sat in rain, sleet, fog, and 90 degree tempertures. If the does are hot the bucks will be running. Moon has nothing to do with it. On the 3 or 4 days of a full moon, I usually stay home.
# Posted By Rodger | 8/23/12 4:59 PM
Hanback's Gravatar everybody has their opinions and i say go with your gut and what works for you! but do a little self-test if you're hunting
the full moon in late October, and see if like Mark and me you see bucks moving. it took me a long time to break the old moon
habit, but now i never let a full moon bother me. i wil reiterate one point i made in the post--Nov 8-12 are prime this year and
any year, no matter moon and weather (though colder the better).
# Posted By Hanback | 8/23/12 5:02 PM
Scott from MI's Gravatar I think the best time to hunt during the full moon is 10:00 thru 2:00 or so. Never get much for action in the mornings of a full moon. Dark moon phase seems to be much better for morning hunts. The last few days of Oct. thru the first week of Nov. is always the best time to hunt here no matter what goes on with weather or moon. That second week of Nov. is either hit or miss. Sometimes down right uneventfull. Seems they get on lock down and we have way to many doe that causes this issue
# Posted By Scott from MI | 8/23/12 8:21 PM
bd milligan's Gravatar hi just a comment hunting a single individual buck on private land last 10 days of oct on a front acorn flats in transition areas for the kill!takes precise knowledge and some luck to pick the day and spot! outfitter hunting in midwest 2nd week! cananda rifle opening day of opening week or fifth week for booners(i have five gross boners)halloween day this yr 29th instead(full moon) and next day for the kill 6 year old does (first in and born with him sometimes bread to him many times on big farms will be taken and on lock down1 2 3!!!!!fourth be there! I've seen giants in the field this day on over two hundred and fifty trips out of state!rest up 5th and sixth and start your hard ten days on multiple locations pinches main travel corridors all day sits you've missed the window and have not shot!it still can be done but drinking buck lure won't help u now !big bucks get killed now thru the mid days of nov !more people hunting than ever some gotta fall!big bucks hardly ever get killed and I've seen big record bucks in fulton county illinois on my farm never be killed ! they just seem to get the breaks to survive and are never seen much!i have 28 gross record deer and it has taken ten trips out of state per trophy per harvest!nerve damage in canada chinch bugs in kansas and buck fever has kept my average low!gootta love it!!!! thanks for reading and thanks for your article!BD is not buck deer it is bobby dane but i do drink buck lure and spray it on in the late days of november! its the grand finale of my ritual each year!good hunting to everyone

# Posted By bd milligan | 8/28/12 11:14 PM
nick's Gravatar Hey Fella's just thought i would add my insite on the full moon. Im in central KS, found my best time to be in a tree during the big light in the sky is from about 9am till around mid to late afternoon
the last 3 yrs i have shot 140+ deer during this time. Of course watching weather plays a major factor watching for a cooling front can increase odds. But, during the full moon is when i take
vacation every year and always sleep in and sneak to my rattleing spots around 8am. Good luck and happy hunting
# Posted By nick | 10/10/12 1:15 AM
Scylas Smitrh's Gravatar where i live at in tn. the rut stays in till early december just determines how cold it stays..
# Posted By Scylas Smitrh | 11/9/12 1:27 PM
Jonathon Roberts's Gravatar Mike Hanback, I live in Central Virginia, the deer activity here for the past 10 days has been "LOCKDOWN" status. Me and my hunting camp have experienced an unusual year as far as the expected activity and the timing of all the phases and action! Traditionally the farms we hunt are in the "SEEKING","CRUISING" phase the first week or so of November, this year so far the activity was through the roof the last 7 days of October! Now the deer activity is zero, we are all back and forth about what is going on, but with every day passing the last few days in the stand has been nothing short of boring when it comes to our traditional expectations! Whats your take Mike on what is occurring? Best of luck to you this hunting season, cant wait to catch your next show! Jonathon, Central VA, Thanks
# Posted By Jonathon Roberts | 11/15/12 10:16 PM
Joe Allen's Gravatar I killed my big buck with a bow on November 4th at 4:40 pm near Brsnson Mo on public land. He was at 17 yards trailing a doe and never knew I was there. Great prediction this year!
# Posted By Joe Allen | 12/8/12 12:58 PM