10 Whitetail Experts Share Their Favorite Day of the Rut

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What’s Your Favorite Day?

Will Brantley | Kentucky | Deer Editor of Field & Stream

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1 | Will Brantley | Kentucky | Deer Editor of Field & Stream

“I’m hesitant to pick a best day of the rut, but a sentimental favorite is October 28,” Brantley said. “That’s usually when the first bucks start cruising in my area, getting them more active in daylight while still holding to a pattern. As for that particular date, it’s when I killed my first good buck as a kid, and my first good archery buck a few years later. It’s definitely a day that stands out on the calendar for that reason.”

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Clay Forst | Oklahoma | Guide for Stuart Ranch Outfitters

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2 | Clay Forst | Oklahoma | Guide for Stuart Ranch Outfitters

“Hunting in the South, my favorite day to be in the woods is November 10,” Forst said. “In my experience, it seems like year in and year out, mature deer are on their feet looking for does more than ever on this date. It’s a great time to pack a sandwich for an all-day stand and find deer that are moving while most are on their couch.”

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Jake Grages | South Dakota | Guide for Daybreak Ranch

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3 | Jake Grages | South Dakota | Guide for Daybreak Ranch

“My favorite day of the rut to hunt is when the first cold front comes in November,” Grages said. “In South Dakota, the rut is just starting to roll about that time. Bucks haven’t totally let down their guard, and seem to follow somewhat of a pattern with scrapes, rubs, and checking for does. They can also still be found with consistent bed-to-food routines, but during shooting light. If I had to pick a date, it’d probably be November 5.”

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Michael Hunsucker | Missouri | Host of Heartland Bowhunter

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4 | Michael Hunsucker | Missouri | Host of Heartland Bowhunter

“My favorite day of the rut is November 2,” Hunsucker said. “It seems like throughout the years, I have had a lot of success those first couple days of November. It’s typically a time when the first does are coming into estrus, and bucks are on the move trying to find them. It can be a good time to decoy bucks as well, as they’re very aggressive at this stage. Also, a major factor being that I hunt Missouri, which has a rifle season opening shortly thereafter.”

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Shawn Luchtel | Missouri | Host of Heartland Bowhunter

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5 | Shawn Luchtel | Missouri | Host of Heartland Bowhunter

“My ideal rut day is October 30 when the first couple does are beginning to go into heat,” Luchtel said. “Every buck seems to be on the move to find them. I want to be right there waiting when they mess up, which is something I’ve seen firsthand and have noticed on my trail cameras.”

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Josh McDaniel | Indiana | Member of Realtree Pro Staff

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6 | Josh McDaniel | Indiana | Member of Realtree Pro Staff

“Right around November 23, or a few days before and after Thanksgiving, is my favorite time of the rut,” McDaniel said. “The most mature bucks are seeking out those last available does, and I’ve had the best luck harvesting my biggest bucks during that time. It’s a little later than most, but I consider it the best stretch to find a giant.”

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Krysten McDaniel | Indiana | Member of Under Armour Hunt Team

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7 | Krysten McDaniel | Indiana | Member of Under Armour Hunt Team

“My favorite stretch of hunting is November 7-11, but my favorite day of the rut is the 9,” McDaniel said. “The anticipation is high, so we make all-day sits and usually see great numbers of deer. My favorite tactic around this time is to use calling, like rattling, grunting and snort wheezes. I never miss those dates in the woods.”

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Nick Mundt | Minnesota | Host of Bone Collector

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8 | Nick Mundt | Minnesota | Host of Bone Collector

“My favorite day of the rut is definitely November 7,” Mundt said. “It seems like it’s always a great day for mature bucks to be on their feet looking for does in estrus. They can really let their guard down and become very visible and killable during daylight hours for the first time, making it the perfect opportunity to harvest a restless buck.”

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Trent Siegle | Kansas | Host of Heartland Bowhunter

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9 | Trent Siegle | Kansas | Host of Heartland Bowhunter

“November 6 is my favorite day of the rut to hunt,” Siegle said. “I’ve shot some of my biggest deer in the past on this day. Seeking phase seems to always peak around this date in Kansas. I focus on sitting near pinch-points close to bedding areas in the morning, and food sources in the evening hoping bucks will be checking these areas for hot does. Although anytime during early November is time well spent in the woods, there’s just something about that date.”

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Bill Winke | Iowa | Host of Midwest Whitetail

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10 | Bill Winke | Iowa | Host of Midwest Whitetail

“My favorite day to hunt the rut falls on November 7,” Winke said. “It is about a week before the highest number of does are in estrous and the bucks are really moving well. Myself, my friends and my pro staff have shot more big deer during the November 6-8 stretch than any other three-day period all season.”

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The whitetail rut is a magical time to be in the woods. I reached out to 10 whitetail connoisseurs who have a track record for killing big bucks to see what their favorite deer day is – and the responses were surprising. The most compelling find was the wide range of answers, which went from October 28 to November 23. If the best dates could be circled on a calendar, though, it would enclose the dates of November 5 to 10. Six of the 10 hunters picked a day within that range as their absolute favorite time of the rut. This was the consensus best stretch to arrow a big whitetail, whether you hail from Oklahoma, like Clay Forst, or South Dakota, like Nick Mundt.

How the hunters came up with their favorite day was a mixed bag, too, but nearly everyone agreed that estrus rules the rut. One of the earliest responses was from Michael Hunsucker in Missouri, who said he likes early November because the first does are coming into estrous. On the contrary, Josh McDaniel in Indiana loves late November because only a limited number of does are left in estrous.

No matter how you look at it, anytime you’re in the woods come fall is the best time to be there.