Over the past 40 years I’ve spent more than 1,000 days in deer stands across North America during the magic month of November, during every imaginable moon phase, during all the waxing and waning days.
Though many scientists don’t put much stock in the moon and its effects on whitetails and the rut, my journal notes and personal observations say differently. I am convinced the various lunar phases can and do impact the movements of rutting deer, though admittedly those effects can sometimes be difficult to see and predict because of warm-weather patterns and moderate to heavy hunting pressure from region to region,
Here are my 2023 moon-rut predictions. Factor them into your gameplan as you schedule your rut-hunting vacation week this season.
No trick but a lot of treat this Halloween. Based on the full hunter’s moon October 28, I predict good to great deer movement October 24 to November 4. This is one of my favorite windows to bowhunt any year, and made better by the big moon this season.
The full moon will kick some mature bucks into scraping and prowling hard the last week of October, and they will seek does hard the first week of November, which will be a great week to grunt and rattle.
If you have the flexibility during this 10- to 12-day window, on through the waning gibbous days and to the last-quarter moon phase on November 5, watch the weather and hunt the 2 to 3 crisp, high-pressure days after a cold front blows through your area and cools things down. Should be a fantastic late October. Afternoon hunting on food sources should be especially good, expect to see bucks on their feet the last hour of daylight.
Across America, there have been more record-book bucks shot November 8-12 than any other days on the calendar, and that window will be great again this year. With the moon moving toward full dark on November 13/14, expect to see the most overall deer activity and buck movement at dawn and dusk, especially in the mornings.
In the middle of November, with the new moon on November 13-15, things could get tough in the Midwest and other regions as many bucks will lock down and tend does. But in other places, namely the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, peak rut will get cranking. If you hunt this week anywhere, it’s all about tree stand time. The longer you sit, the better your odds of seeing a good buck, though the first and last hour of each day will be best.
Later in November, as we head through the first-quarter moon on November 20 and toward the next rising full moon on November 27-29, I predict the hunting will be good to great. But hunting pressure, especially a good amount of rifle heat, can and will subdue daytime buck activity, so factor that into your plan. Hunt for bucks on green food sources in the afternoons; the colder the weather the better.
I’m stoked with another full moon rising November 27-29, and predict it will keep bucks moving and rutting well into the first week of December, especially if your weather is seasonably chilly. I’ll be filming my TV show in Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle after Thanksgiving and into the first week of December, and expect to tag 2 mature late-season 8-pointers. Don’t overlook the early-post rut this year, especially those first few days of December. Good luck!