2022 Rut Predictions

Hunt during peak rut activity in 2022. Find out what days might have mature whitetail bucks on the move in some of the best hunting areas in the country.  

Rut predictions are always just that, predictions based on experience, science, biology, moon phases, and maybe a touch of superstition. There is no guarantee a shooter buck will walk under your stand at first light on the day or days we present below, but there’s a darn good chance you’ll be seeing rut activity that you can understand and plan around, improving your odds at tagging a great whitetail in 2022. 

For this year’s rut predictions we reached out to over a dozen onX Hunt Ambassadors to get their insights on the upcoming season. We ask them about scrapes, rubs, the moon, and what days they’ll be in the stand without fail this year.

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What Will Make the 2022 Whitetail Rut Different?

The last few whitetail seasons had prolonged, or two-pronged, trickle ruts, meaning the rut unveiled in waves of activity over longer periods during the season. This was supported by the fact that in 2020 we had two full moons in October, and in 2021 we had two “rutting full moons” occur during peak rut activity, plus a super new moon happened on November 4, which was one of our predicted “best rut hunting” dates (+/- 1 day). We heard from onX Hunt’s own Jared Larsen that he bagged his big buck on November 3, 2021. Naturally, we weren’t surprised.

Jared Larsen Whitetail Buck - onX Hunt - Rut Predictions
onX Hunt’s Jared Larsen with his whitetail buck taken on November 3, 2021.

For 2022 the signs are pointing to a more classic, intensified rut, where the bulk of does will be bred in a shorter window than in most recent years. That means we’ll see more defined high points of scrape visitations and intense lockdowns when bucks are locked on the doe(s) they want to breed. For hunters to have the advantage this year, they will need to pay attention to pre-rut behaviors and read early signs so they can be in the right woods at the right time.

Rut Predictions - Scrapes - onX Hunt
A whitetail deer scrape.

Scrapes, Rubs, and the Rut

One of the primary ways whitetails communicate with one another is through scent. Deer have highly sensitive noses so by leaving scrapes, rubs, and licking branches they can mark their territory, demonstrate their presence, or show they’re ready to breed. From October through November, when whitetail bucks are laden with testosterone they are aggressively scraping and checking on those scrapes. 

Discovering, marking, and watching over scrapes and rubs is one of the best ways to understand when the rut will turn on in your local hunting area. If it’s unclear what the difference between a scrape and a rub is we’ll help. 

A scrape is on the ground (as shown above), typically in the shape of an oval and likely under a low-hanging branch that the buck has licked. Scrapes are dug with hooves and the buck urinates over his tarsal glands to disperse his scent onto the scrape. 

A rub is created when a buck rubs its antlers on saplings, brush, trees, or even fence posts. While rubbing, scents from the buck’s forehead gland press into the wood and bark. Research has shown that mature bucks make most of the rubs in an area, with yearling bucks making half as many rubs as a mature deer. Bucks also make rubs throughout the breeding season.

Whitetail Deer Rub - onX Hunt
A substantial whitetail deer rub on a fence post.

Here’s how some of our Ambassadors decipher and hunt over scrapes and rubs leading up to and during the rut. 

“When hunting fresh scrapes or rubs I will tend to hunt over the scrapes if I am to choose one. Late October and that first week of November scrapes seem to be action-packed with bucks. If it has rained, I notice even more activity on the scrapes where bucks are freshening them up. If I am hunting public land it often seems tougher to find deer sign with competing hunter pressure.  At that point, I will hunt the rubs or scrapes depending on which I find first.” – Heartland Bowhunter’s Shawn Luchtel

“If we find a fresh scrape near a bedding area, we’re going to pay close attention to it. Sometimes we’ll set up right over the top of them. Most of our success has come from mid- to late-October hunting scrapes but they can certainly be great spots earlier and later in the season—even during the rut. “Fresh” is the keyword for either scrapes or rubs. If a scrape is the size of a car hood but hasn’t been worked in the last few days then we aren’t messing with it. However, if it’s got fresh dirt that’s been stirred up or a wet spot in it where a deer just peed within the last 12 hours or so, we’re looking to hunt it if it’s within a couple hundred yards of bedding cover.” – The Hunting Public’s Aaron Warbritton 

Aaron Warbritton - Heartland Bowhunter - onX Hunt Ambassador

“When scrapes start popping up you know the bucks are starting to travel and that means they are looking for the first available doe to come into estrus. The best tip I have for hunting scrapes is as soon as you see one pop up, get a trail camera on it immediately. I will start to hunt over a specific scrape when I see daylight activity or more frequent/close to daylight activity from a target buck. If he’s hitting that specific scrape in daylight, you better be there within the next couple of days because your window of opportunity could be short.” – Tag N’ Brag’s David Giarrizzo

Full Moon Rut Hunting

Full Moon or Full of Baloney? 

Some swear by it and others ignore it. Hunting in accordance with the moon’s phases, particularly when there’s a full moon during the rut, is something on which even the most experienced hunters disagree. So of course we had to poll our onX Hunt Ambassadors to get their take on whether the moon’s got anything to do with the rut and their success in hunting during it. For reference, in 2022 there will be a full moon on November 8.

The Moon Skeptics Say 

Tanner Edenfield - Have Bow Will Travel - onX Hunt Ambassador

“I pay no attention to the moon in relation to the rut. Deer have a pineal gland that controls their hormone levels based on the length of the days and therefore the moon has no effect on it in my opinion.” – Have Bow, Will Travel’s Tanner Edenfield

“I honestly don’t put a whole lot of weight into the moon phase during this time of year. While I feel it can influence a deer’s behavior, I think there are other, much more important factors such as weather/barometric pressure and moonrise/moonset times. I will say that when there is a full moon, the deer do tend to feed later in the evenings so mornings can be much better with those conditions.” – Heartland Bowhunter’s Michael Hunsucker 

“I don’t adjust my hunting at all based on the moon phase. I know that a lot of hunters do, but I hunt when I get the opportunity, regardless of conditions. A lot of the beliefs around deer movement and moon phase, or specific weather conditions, involve private land where hunters are looking to preserve deer movement and hunt only when everything lines up for the best odds. If you hunt public land, or pressured private ground, the biggest influence on deer movement will always be hunting pressure.” – Wired to Hunt’s Tony Peterson

Tony Peterson - Wired to Hunt - onX Hunt Ambassador

“Anytime I’m hunting after October 28 I pay absolutely no attention to the full moon. This is a great time to be in a stand or blind ANY time of the day since bucks are beginning to cruise, looking for the first hot doe in the area.” – Realtree Outdoors’ David Blanton

The Moon Believers Say

Clifford Bailey - KEO Vlogs - onX Hunt Ambassador

“I’ve had the best luck hunting the morning time frame during full moons. I’m not sure why that is but I have definitely noticed more daylight movement during the early morning time frames with near or full moons.” – KEO Vlogs’ Clifford Bailey 

“I’m no biologist or scientist but I have an opinion on the full moon. The best records I’ve seen on this is at Bent Creek Lodge, a hunting lodge in the Alabama Black Belt. They keep precise logs from each daily hunt, including temperature, barometer, wind direction, and moon phase. They have done this for over 30 years. Although the best deer movement is almost always after a cold front has passed, when temps dropped and high pressure is settled into the area, their biggest bucks have always been close to or during the full moon phase. People think that full moons allow the deer to feed at night because of light conditions, and that may be true to a point, but I never avoid [hunting during] a full moon when the rut is on.” – Mossy Oak’s Cuz Strickland

Somewhere In Between

“I don’t change my hunting plans as much for a full moon as I do the time of the year or the weather. However, I do tend to hunt more midday hours on and around a full moon.  In my experience, especially in the mornings of a full moon, my hunts have been slower until closer to midday.” – Midwest Whitetail’s Jared Mills

Jared Mills - Midwest Whitetail - onX Hunt Ambassador

“When I am deer hunting, I don’t follow predictions or moon data. My thought process is to be in the woods and create as many opportunities as possible. I am a firm believer that the more a hunter is in the woods, the better the odds of harvesting an animal. I will say that there are days when the moon is above me midday that I normally will not take a midday nap or break. I will hunt/glass all day because midday movement seems to pick up.” – The Untamed’s Josh Ilderton

2022 Rut Predictions for the Midwest

Hunting the Rut in the Midwest

There are plenty of excellent whitetail hunting states in the Midwest and in those states rut activity is fairly dependable season after season. In 2021 most rut reports classified the rut as “on schedule,” but whitetails were showing some atypical behaviors, including engaging in much of the rutting activities at night. This was attributed to the fact that 2021 had higher than normal average temperatures, not only in the Midwest but across the country, so bucks were hooking up with their does in the cool of the night. 

To understand what the 2022 whitetail season may have in store for us we turn to some of the most experienced Midwestern hunters who were willing to share parts of their gameplan. 

Missouri / Kansas

Shawn Luchtel - Heartland Bowhunter - onX Hunt Ambassador

“The last week of October and first week of November have always been my favorite weeks of the season to be in a stand in the Midwest. Providing the weather conditions are right, you can almost guarantee you will have a run-in with a target buck within that time period. Hunting the wind and putting in time will ensure that opportunity.” – Heartland Bowhunter’s Shawn Luchtel

“In Missouri and Kansas, given typical conditions, peak rut usually happens in the middle of November. That is when the most amount of does are in heat and is a period often referred to as ‘lockdown.’ It’s a term that I really dislike because it’s often used as a nationwide assumption, when in actuality it varies from region to region and even property to property. My favorite time to be in the woods during the rut is on the front end of peak rut when the first few does are coming into estrus. Usually the first week of November is my favorite.” – Heartland Bowhunter’s Michael Hunsucker 

Michigan

“If I had it my way, I’d be in the woods November 1-14 every day all day for the rest of eternity. You just can’t beat that period of time across much of America, and fetal measurement studies back this up, as most states’ peak of breeding has been found to be right around mid-November year after year. The two weeks preceding that peak of breeding is usually the most ‘rut activity’ rich, making the first half of November about as good as it gets. If I had to narrow it down even further, I’d pick November 6-12 as my favorite seven days. I’ve shot and killed a pile of bucks in that window, and missed a few big ones too.” – MeatEater’s Mark Kenyon

Mark Kenyon - MeatEater - onX Hunt Ambassador

Iowa

“If I had to pick one day for the peak rut, I’d put it on or around November 12 here in Iowa.” – Midwest Whitetail’s Jared Mills 

“Halloween has always been good but I don’t have a ‘favorite’ date per se. I’m more concerned with the specific conditions on each individual day and how to deal with them. Windy and damp days are my favorite!” – The Hunting Public’s Aaron Warbritton 

Ohio

Josh Ilderton - The Untamed - onX Hunt Ambassador

“October 31 (Halloween) is the best day I have found to be in the woods there.” – The Untamed’s Josh Ilderton

“My absolute favorite time to hunt Ohio is the last week in October, specifically the 25th and 28th. The last three years of hunting I have either had encounters, screwed up opportunities, or shot a mature buck on those two days. Most encounters have been in the morning, and most were either coming from or going to a fresh scrape. I love that time because they aren’t with the does quite yet so you can still get a shot at a buck you’ve been watching all year. Once they get their first does and they start really roaming, they could be miles away for weeks and you never know where they are.” – Tag N’ Brag’s David Giarrizzo

Minnesota

“The peak rut, at least in the northern half of the country where I hunt, doesn’t change. The fawns have to drop at a specific time in the spring, so the does have to be bred in the first couple weeks of November. This means that from Halloween until the middle of the month, it’s better to be in a tree than at home. If I had only couple days in that two-week window, I would pick November 7-10. This goes for any state, and any type of land (public or private).” – Wired to Hunt’s Tony Peterson

2022 Midwest Rut Predictions - onX Hunt

2022 Peak Rut Dates for the Midwest

October 25, 28
October 31
November 6-8
November 12-15

Hunting the Rut in the South - onX Hunt

Hunting the Rut in the South

The whitetail rut in the South is a fickle thing. It is nuanced and can vary from county to county, if not even from one side of a county road to the other. We’ve covered hunting the southern rut in more detail in the past, and onX Hunt features a unique Southern Rut Heat Map Layer to help those in the South decipher peak rut activities and locations. But there is no substitute for boots-on-the-ground (and backsides-in-treestands) experience from those who hunt southern whitetails every season. 

Georgia

“In Georgia our deer are ‘mutts.’ They were stocked from different places, which had different rutting times. Also, we have a lower buck-to-doe ratio than many other states, which means there’s a higher likelihood of a doe not being bred on her first cycle. The observable peak of rutting activity (not the peak of conception) is typically going to be those few days around the time that the does are starting to come into heat. Here in middle Georgia that is generally around the beginning of the second week of November.” – Have Bow, Will Travel’s Tanner Edenfield

“There is a particular window where I’m always in a tree somewhere. It can vary, but usually from October 24 until about November 7, I’m in a tree every single day no matter what state I’m in.” – Realtree Camo’s Tyler Jordan

Tyler Jordan - Realtree Camo - onX Hunt

“What I’ve noticed through the years as the optimal day to be in a tree to encounter a mature buck is Halloween. Especially if it is along with cooler-than-normal temps. Super great day to be out there!” – Realtree Outdoors’ David Blanton

Arkansas

Clay Newcomb - MeatEater - onX Hunt Ambassador

“My favorite days to hunt Arkansas are November 5, 6, and 7. Buck sign starts escalating by October 15 and peaks during the last week of October. By the first week of November scrapes are dead. Bucks aren’t checking or making many scrapes because they’re in active pursuit of does.” – MeatEater’s Clay Newcomb

Mississippi / Alabama

“One is the opening day or first day of early season I can go with the right conditions. Bucks are so much less nocturnal! Secondly, December 10 here in Mississippi has been a date that it’s always ‘on’ by and a great beginning-of-the-rut day. The same for December 27 in Alabama. Can’t tell you why, but I think it is early rut without a ton of does in heat to create a wide-scale lockdown. Bucks just travel more and are very aggressive.” – Mossy Oak Founder Toxey Haas

“Our rut on my farm is always between December 15-30. Three of our best bucks were taken on Christmas Eve, several years apart. The best person to ask when is the rut in your area is the local deer processor. If he keeps records, he can tell you exactly when the big bucks come in.” – Mossy Oak’s Cuz Strickland

Cuz Strickland - Mossy Oak - onX Hunt Ambassador

Texas*

“I really like the first couple days of the second week of November for rut action. I’ve killed lots of bucks in December, but if I had to choose a day it would probably be November 7. It’s the only date I’ve killed multiple bucks. I feel more confident in late October up north, but in most midwestern and southern states I really like early- to mid-November. Particularly, our cameras in Texas have shown November 14 to be the best day for picking up daylight bucks.” – The Element’s KC Smith

West Virginia

“Between November 13-15 movement seems to really pick up and I always seem to get on deer over these days.” – The Untamed’s Josh Ilderton

2022 South Rut Predictions - onX Hunt

2022 Peak Rut Dates for the South

October 31
November 5-7
November 14
December 10
December 24-27

*The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has published a very interesting study on the whitetail deer rut in the state, creating one of the most detailed reports on peak breeding dates and activity. If you’re going to hunt in Texas this season, it’s worth a read

We hope you’ve marked some of these dates on your calendar for the coming deer season. Maybe you’ll look at fresh scrapes and rubs a little differently too. Let us know how hunting the rut goes for you this year. Tag us on Facebook or Instagram (@onxhunt).

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Ryan Newhouse

Though raised hunting squirrels and whitetails in the South, Ryan Newhouse has spent nearly the last two decades chasing Western big game in Montana and writing professionally about his travels and the craft beers he’s consumed along the way. He loves camping, fishing, boating, and teaching his two kids the art of building campfires and playing the ukulele. And yes, he’s related to Sewell Newhouse, inventor of the steel animal traps.