Big Deer’s 2017 Moon-Rut Hunting Guide

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2017 rut moon phases: Full November 4…last quarter November 10…new November 18…first quarter November 26

As I have said time and again here on the blog and on BIG DEER TV, I am neither a scientist nor an astronomer. But I am a whitetail hunter and have been doing it for 40 years, more than 30 of those professionally. I’m also a moon fanatic. Over the years I figure I’ve spent between 880 and 1,000 days in a deer stand in November, during every imaginable moon phase and all waxing and waning days.

My journal notes and personal observations say that there is definitely something to the November moon and how it impacts the movements of rutting whitetails.

My 2017 predictions:

I like the way this November’s moon sets up. For starters it exposes the seeking phase of the pre-rut, when bucks start to prowl and expand their range for the first hot does. Halloween into the first week of November is a good time to bowhunt in any season. This year, with the moon waxing toward full-91% visible on November 1 to 100% bright on November 4-5-the hunting should be especially good.

If you hunt that first week of November, keep in mind that deer movement will be best near food sources in the afternoons. If a cold front sweeps into your hunt area that week, better yet.

During the full moon week of Nov. 4-11, the best buck movement will shift to the mornings. While it flies in the face of what many scientists and hunters believe, I love hunting a full moon in early November because in my experience, the deer rut hard all day. You’re apt to see a shooter on his feet at 8:00 a.m.…11:00 a.m.…2:00 p.m….any day this week, so hang on stand as long as you can.

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For vacation-planning purposes:

If the land you’ll hunt has crop fields and food plots, I’d suggest you hunt the first 5 days of November. Hunt stands near the feed and focus on the afternoons. A stand on a slightly elevated ridge 100-200 yards off a corn or bean field would be a hotspot either afternoon or morning.

If the land is mostly woods with mast and greenery for deer food, think about hunting a little later, say November 5-12. Historically, if you check the record books, these are the very best days in any year to kill a monster buck. Set your stands back in the woods along trails and travel funnels—especially those with smoking-fresh scrapes-and hunt bucks seeking to hook up with does near bedding areas in the mornings.

Again, if you can hack it, stay on a deep-cover stand all day. I expect some giants to fall from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during the big moon November 5-10.

Buck movement and rutting activity will vary some according to local conditions and weather, but for the very best chance to shoot a giant I say hunt sometime in the Nov. 2-12 window. But go when you can. You still have a decent shot into the new moon of November 17-18, though in most places the best rut will begin to slow down.

If at all possible hunt ground with minimal or no pressure, which I know is difficult. But even moderate human intrusion can turn mature bucks nocturnal and blow up your moon opportunity.

Hunt hard and safe, and good luck.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>