The Best Days of the 2022 Whitetail Rut
Want to know what exact days to go hunting this year? Field and Stream has their predictions in and we want to share them with our Harvester members!
“What’s a preseason without some prognostications? Some hot picks and bold predictions? As I write this, the early bow opener here in southeastern Minnesota is only a little more than a couple weeks away. As much as I love hunting those early days, though, what I’m really thinking about as the 2022-23 season approaches is the same thing every whitetail hunter waits for all year: the rut. Not just the peak of the breeding cycle, but the whole shebang, from late-October’s explosion of rubs and scrapes and first exploratory doe-seeking missions all the way through secondary rut, when the biggest bucks are still on their feet, shuffling through winter’s fist blankets of snow to find the last available does.
From beginning to end, the rut is a fairly long, drawn-out, and dynamic process with peaks and valleys. When it’s rocking, it’s like bucks are on parade in front of you tree stand, complete with fights and chase scenes. When it’s slow, you might see nothing more than a lone lost-looking fawn all day. So, when are the best times to get out there? Well, the easy answer is, whenever you can. But year in and year out, some days are better than others—and that’s where the hot picks and bold predictions come in.
Turns out, I haven’t just been thinking about the 2022 rut. I’ve been talking to the country’s top deer guides and biologist and pouring over moon guides and more to help you get into the woods on the right days this fall. So, here, based on my own 40 years of obsessive deer hunting, the advice of other experts, and a little voodoo, are the seven best days of the 2022 whitetail rut. Mark your calendar, because these are the days you need to be in a stand, ground blind, or on a deer track this fall. And when you tag a monster on one of the seven days below, let us know about it.
Best Day of the Rut No. 1: October 23
This day should kick off an event we’ve called “scrape week” for many years. The first time I heard the term, I was talking to Tom Indrebo, owner of Bluff Country Outfitters in Buffalo County Wisconsin. Indrebo is one of the Midwest’s most successful whitetail guides, and in his mind, this is the absolute best time to kill a mature buck over a scrape. I absolutely agree. Although bucks make and tend scrapes throughout the year, late October is when they get frantic about the process. Does aren’t quite ready to breed, and bucks are pacing about, anxious for things to get started. So they turn their attention to laying down and tending to sign, and, yeah, this is when you need to be searching for that stuff.
If you’re already plugged in to existing active scrapes, jump on them. If not, it’s critical to get mobile and start scouting for the fresh stuff. Check any trail cameras you have on scrapes for daytime activity. Check for scrapes in and near the best doe feeding areas, as bucks know that potential mates are hanging out here, and they want to throw their ID cards out where does will find them. Also check the edges of known buck bedding areas; this is that exciting time of the rut when bucks are super active, yet still staying largely faithful to their core areas. As a bonus, now is a legitimate time to take a shot at a morning hunt near a bedding area. So if you find hot sign there, set up. Obviously you’ll want to wait for perfect conditions, and be stealthy, but tagging a late-to-bed monster is entirely possible right now.”
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Photo credit: Original Author