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Predictions on the 2011 rut

Outdoor Tales

The “Rutting Moon”

Some prognosticators, like Charles Alsheimer, believe the second full moon after the Autumnal Equinox — known as the rutting moon — is what triggers the beginning of breeding activity.

This year, the rutting moon will take place on Thursday, Nov. 10.

Perhaps the number one question I hear from whitetail hunters this time of year is if I’ve read any predictions about when peak breeding activity will occur this fall.

Since vacation time is limited for most, it seems everyone wants to be in the woods for that ever-so-crucial time when mature bucks are looking for love, and thus let their guard down, albeit for a minute or two.

There is little debate that a heck of a lot more mature bucks would die of old age in these parts if it weren’t for the rut, when both bucks and does become less nocturnal and wary.

I have read a ton of information on forecasting peak breeding activity, but perhaps no one has done as much research on the subject or is held in higher regard than rut prediction guru Charles Alsheimer, who is a native of western NY.

Alsheimer uses phases of the moon to forecast when whitetails will come into estrous, and I’ve found his predictions to be on the mark more often than not.

At the same time, I’m always interested in what others have so say and I recently stumbled across some research done by wildlife biologists of the Quality Deer Management Association.

The group studied fetuses taken from dead deer and monitored when fawns were born to determine — in some cases within a day or two — when a doe was bred.

Since the gestation period for a doe is more or less 198 days, it can be calculated with accuracy when conception occurred by simply aging a fetus or monitoring when birth occurs and counting back.

John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He may be reached at www.denpubs.com.

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