Whitetail Rut Vacation for 2015 and Post-Hunt Assessment (Part 1 of 2)

Every year I attempt to take some vacation time from managing projects to maximize my buck hunting opportunity in the PA & OH archery seasons.  Generally speaking during any given year this time falls right around Halloween and more specifically the first week of November.  

Last year I found myself in the midst of a few commitments and scheduling conflicts that prevented me from taking off the days that I really wanted to be up in a tree waiting on whitetails.  These days in 2014 were November 3rd to 7th.  I've had some really good success with these days in the past, but last year was a different story.  As the archery season went along, it seemed as if I'd missed my best days.  Some hunters say it is a combination of moon phase, temperatures, estrous does, but it didn't matter because I had missed the HOT spot of my rut vacation (sad face).

With every new hunting season comes new excitement and in 2015 I was going to go about my season differently.  Best of all, I was able to schedule my rut vacation for November 2nd to the 6th and even though mother nature delivered warmer than normal temperatures I still feel like my timing was right for the following reasons.  

 A spot for a quiet sit in waiting for a buck. 

A spot for a quiet sit in waiting for a buck. 

1. On October 24 at first light, I witnessed some pre-rut behavior from a young buck that kept circling down wind to scent check 2 does that were nearby.  Furthermore, I continually saw increasing pre-rut activity from younger bucks during the last week of October. 

2. On October 31st, I heard from a reliable source that a few bucks were sparing and the activity brought in another buck that was curious about the on-going commotion.  Also I had a friend have a successful buck encounter that resulted from rattling in the early morning hours of November 2nd.    

3. I kept talking to others that also pay attention to deer movements and they claimed that daylight sightings were on the rise.  

4. I unfortunately noted considerably more road-killed deer along the highways and side roads. 

5.  Based on the readings that I've done and my own past bow hunting experiences I know that the time right around Halloween (before and after) can be great hunting resulting in exponential growing optimism! 

Additionally, recently I caught a post on wiredtohunt.com that included a video to the rut prediction that was conducted by Charles Alzheimer.  It's a good short video that discusses the "rutting moon" arrival on October 27th.  I know that there has been many studies that have proven that there is no correlation between rut timing and moon phase, but I still find these predictions interesting.  It has been supported by many studies that photo-period is the key driving factor with rut timing.  This example at qdma.com provides a great background for further reading on this topic.  

To further confuse you on the whole moon phase vs. photo-period debate you can check out this example at qdma.com which debunks the correlation between the two.  Interesting reading in my opinion, but the moon phase still has something to do with the overall equation.  We just aren't completely sure what it is yet.  I guess the jury is still out on the topic. 

What are your thoughts on rut timing?  

What factors come to mind when you think of "flipping the switch" for rutting bucks?  

At the top of my "rut wish-list" are the following: 

1. Experience less than normal hunting pressure for the specific property that I am hunting.  PA is notorious for having high hunting pressure and it's sometimes hard to find low competition hunting grounds. 

2. Adequate estrus doe numbers to support the bucks that will start to frequent the bedding areas that does cling to during this time of year.  

3. Daylight sightings: its nice to have temperatures in the cool or cold range, but after last week's warm temperatures I'm beginning to wonder about this.  More on this topic in part 2. 

4. Less than normal winds.  I'll still be out hunting, but on days when winds are in excess of 10 mph, I never seem to have good luck. 

I've kept up with lots of folks at home and also on social media and have noticed that the first 10 days of November went rather well.  In Part 2 of this thread I'll post my own assessment of my rut vacation and go more in depth on the details that unraveled. 

Thanks for reading.