2023 Whitetail Deer Rut Activity

When the October “hunters moon” comes around, you know that the rut is almost in full swing.

The full moon signals that the whitetail deer reproductive season is near and the deer are about to start moving more.

All bucks go into peak rut at different times. It could due to age, nutrition, moon phase or geographic location.

In the map below, you can see how we divided the country into North and South like they do at Deer & Deer Hunting.

deer rut activity map

The rut starts earlier in the year for the states North of the line.

In states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Northern Illinois the rut is well underway. Deer would have been scraping heavily by now and probably already chasing does at this point.

In states like Kentucky, Missouri and Southern Indiana, bucks have already started seeking out does and moving larger distances in search for a mate.

Deer rut behavior

I’ll briefly go over the three phases at a high level so you can understand what the deer breeding season is like:

Seeking phase – Bucks are not chasing does yet but you might see more bucks than usual moving

Chasing phase – Bucks are looking for does and will continue searching until they find one

Tending phase – Bucks find a doe and stay with her until bred before moving to the next doe

For more in-depth guides on rut behavior check out this article – https://realtree.com/deer-hunting/articles/how-to-hunt-the-phases-of-the-rut

Kentucky rut hunting

While hunting Western Kentucky last week, there were still no signs of bucks chasing does.

With the full moon on Saturday, October 28 and a big cold front pushing in October 31, I believe the bucks will begin chasing. This is one of the most exciting times to be in the woods.

The bucks will be moving over larger distances, sometimes many miles, chasing a doe. It’s almost like a cat and mouse game. The buck will continue following the doe, chasing her around until he can corner her. This can last quite some time.

Chasing is my favorite time to be in the woods. You will typically see multiple bucks chasing does, even some chasing the same doe.

Any time during the rut is a good time to be using your grunt call or event some antlers. Bucks do not want any other buck around while he is chasing does and will fight and run them off.

The bucks will be in peak chasing mode November 2-6 in our area so that’s when you’ll find me in the woods.

For more deer hunting tips, check out our guide

What kind of rut action are you seeing in your neck of the woods?


  • Hey folks! I'm Trey Copeland, founder of Made To Hunt. I'm from Kentucky and love the outdoors. I've been hunting or fishing in many states including KY, MO, MS, AR, TN and FL as well as Mexico and Costa Rica. For more updates follow me on Twitter.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply