It’s that time of the year again when everybody has the same question, what’s the best week this year to plan my guided or out of state hunt? Well, that’s kind of a “loaded” question and can be difficult to nail down. Personally, I’ve enjoyed tremendous success the last decade planning my trips far from home, maybe my strategy can help you!
First things first, are you deer hunting or chasing a specific animal? Obviously, there are more big deer killed during the peak of the rut than any other time of the year. So, if you’re just hoping that the breeding phase of mid November pulls a mature deer out of the cover and in front of your stand, this period may be your best bet.
If you have your sights on a particular big buck, you might want to consider scheduling your trip a bit earlier. Towards the end of October and into the early part of November, mature bucks are still on a predictable pattern. With the rut fast approaching, these older deer will be more apt to move earlier during daylight, but not traveling far and wide searching for a hot doe. This scenario creates a perfect storm for a big buck making a mistake. He’s like a loaded gun, waiting for something to pull the trigger. I believe that triggering factor is the Red Moon. I’ve found that if I schedule my trip to coincide with the last Red Moon of October or first part of November, it’s my best chance of being in the right place at the right time to catch a big buck making a mistake by moving during daylight.
Last year I managed to wrap a tag around my biggest Illinois buck to date following this exact strategy. With the help of my good friends in Illinois, our Whitetail Institute plot was tucked in a very secluded spot and got hit pretty hard by late October. As the scrapes began to get opened up, we actually “primed” the spot with fresh estrous from Raw Frozen Scents for a week straight before I arrived. My plan was to be there for the Red Moon hitting November 3rd through the 7th.
The evening of November 3rd found me perched in my Lone Wolf, overlooking a variety of Ravish Radishes, Tall Tine Tubers, and Winter Peas. Even though it was unseasonably warm for early November, I knew everything was lined up for a great week of hunting. The first 2 bucks through the plot showed up extremely early and they were on a mission, never even stopping to eat. One was a giant 7 point that had to 5-6 years old, definitely mature, and a great sign of things to come. The first group of does showed up a good hour and a half before dark, with the giant 7×7 right behind them!
As the monster whitetail entered the food plot, he immediately pushed the biggest doe back into the timber and I thought the show was over before it started. He didn’t follow her more than 10 yards before marching right back to the edge of the plot to work a scrape. Over the next 10 minutes, he left the plot 2 more times, only to return working 2 more scrapes in the process. He did not want to leave! I have to believe priming those scrapes with estrous for the week prior did the trick. As the giant worked his way along the edge of the plot, coming closer with each step, I could hear more deer coming from behind me. All I could do was hope my Ozonics did its job protecting my downwind side. When he got to my side of the plot he was at 50 yards. Now at the edge of the timber once again, the giant stared intently at the group of does filtering through the woods behind me, it was now or never!
This mega whitetail ended up scoring just shy of 187” and was my fourth whitetail to crack 170” on an out of state hunt during the Red Moon!