I’d wager to say that bowhunters burn up a majority of their vacation time in the first half of November. It’s for good reason, as most whitetail enthusiasts agree there’s no better time to be in the woods.
I reached out to 10 big buck experts to take a nuanced look at that part of the season. They shared with me their favorite day of the rut and why it sticks out to them. November 7th was the most popular choice, and 70% picked a day between November 7th and November 10th. However, answers ranged all the way from November 2nd to November 15th.
Nick Mundt | Bone Collector
“My favorite day of the rut is definitely November 7th. 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.”
Justin Zarr | Bowhunting.com
“You hear a lot about those first two weeks in November, but I’ve found that I see more bucks on their feet during daylight as the rut starts to wind down. I believe that a lot of bucks will stay in or near their core areas and breed home range does first, which is what causes the lockdown we all dread. Once those does are bred, the bucks seem to start extending their range to find other does. That’s why November 15th is my favorite day of the rut.”
Mark Kenyon | Wired to Hunt
“It’s hard to beat November 8th for hunting the whitetail rut. If the weather cooperates with cool temperatures somewhere around that date, give or take a day, you’re likely in for some good action. Bucks are chasing, does are coming into heat, and the “lockdown” typically hasn’t kicked into gear yet. All of that is a recipe for a great hunt.”
Clay Forst | Stuart Ranch Outfitters
“Hunting in the South, my favorite day to have a client in the woods is November 10th. 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 lunch for an all-day stand and find deer that are moving while most hunters are on their couch.”
Michael Hunsucker | Heartland Bowhunter
“My favorite day of the rut is November 2nd. 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 after.”
Bill Winke | Midwest Whitetails
“My favorite day to hunt the rut falls on November 7th. It is about a week before the highest number of does are in estrous and the bucks are really moving as 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.”
Tony Peterson | Bowhunter Magazine
“There is no better day to be in a treestand than November 7th. That, in my experience, is the day when things are most likely to bust wide open, at least in the northern half of the country. If you want to see the rut activity really ramping up, get out there on that date and sit all day – no matter the weather or the conditions.”
Dylan Tramp | Outdoor Forum
"From what I've seen in person and on camera, November 10th has historically been the most exciting day of the rut. In South Dakota, this always seems to be the climax for daylight buck activity. It's that day when you're most likely to see random, new bucks on an excursion out looking for does. If there's ever a time to intercept a mature whitetail out cruising, this is it."
Mark Drury | Drury Outdoors
“My favorite day of the rut is November 9th. That’s the day that I’ve killed three of my top five deer on. All three were southeast winds with extremely high pressure, so there’s been some historically good weather for me. Typically, you see giants out looking the most in that 7th-9th range. Daylight activity has always peaked for me in that span.”
Dan Johnson | Nine Finger Chronicles
“November 5th would be my favorite day. I feel that the woods are really heating up about this time. Paired with a cold front, the potential of a mature buck coming off of his first doe and vulnerable to calling is greater. Plus, the 5th is my birthday and there’s no better way to spend it than in a treestand doing what I love.”