The best week of the season is different for everyone, but in the Midwest, it’s pretty constant from year to year
I’ve hunted just about every day of the rut since 1990 and I have talked to a lot of people. Arguably, the best single day is November 7. Some guys like November 8 or 9, but those three days generally produce the best daylight action of the season, assuming normal temperatures.
But what’s the best overall window for those vacation days?
Again, weather plays a huge role in how much bucks move in daylight, but all things being normal, the best week of the season — for the Midwest — is roughlyly November 3 to 11. This year, you have a great calendar for this. If you take off November 4 to 8, you can hunt from November 2 to 10. If it’s not too late, and if you’re a bowhunter or your gun season falls during that window, that’s the plan to follow.
How do we know this is the best window? Pure observations? Old campfire stories? Perhaps a little science?
Biologists have done testing by back-dating fetuses. They examine (measure) those from harvested late-season does to determine when they conceived. In the Midwest, and the northern 2/3 of the country, the average breeding date is November 15. That’s not to say all the breeding takes place that day. It’s like a bell-shaped curve, with some breeding occurring as early as October and as late as December. The middle of the curve (the highest point when the most does are in estrous) is November 15, though.
But this isn’t the best time to hunt. The middle of the rut, when the most does are in estrous, is actually the worst part of the rut, because too many bucks are tied down with does and not moving.
Backing off a week or so, to the time when some does are in estrous (but not many of them), and you have a lot of buck movement. That is why November 7 is such a good time and November 3-10 is the best window of the season.
Of course, I’ll be hunting that week. And so should you. Good luck.