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Elk Rut Question

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Unread 08-17-2009, 09:24 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
Posts: 6,068
Re: Elk Rut Question

Agree with everyone else - last two weeks of Sept are the peak of rut, and it doesn't have anything to do with Easter. Easter vary's by several weeks year to year.

Also weather and moon will play a aprt in the amount of daylight activity. cool rainy/snowy weather will usually bring a lot of activiety and the less moon out the better.

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Unread 08-17-2009, 07:52 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Blanchard, OK
Posts: 105
Re: Elk Rut Question

last two weeks of Sept are the peak of rut, and it doesn't have anything to do with Easter. Easter vary's by several weeks year to year.
You are correct, Easter moves around from year to year. It is however always observed on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox.

By definition (to me) the rut means when cows are ready to breed. I believe the primary trigger (the estrous cycle of cows), is dictated by hormones in the cow and this is triggered by the ratio between daylight and darkness (photoperiod).

The cycling of the photoperiod each year is relatively constant (because of the fall equinox). So the cycling of hormones each year is relatively constant based on the moon, not dates on a calendar.

I further believe that weather definitely affects observed behavior (i.e. hot, dry weather we may see little to no bugling (rutting) activity, in cold weather it might cause more, etc). Elk in both cold and warm climates breed each year. Therefore, I think weather has the least affect on the rut than any thing. I fully believe that the ratio of daylight to darkness is the primary factor affecting my definition of "the rut” just like it triggers many other activities in both plant and animal life.

How many times over the years have you heard it said “there didn’t seem to be any rut this year...” yet every year, cows give birth to calves? Regardless of whether or not it is hot or cold or rather or not we observer rutting behavior, “rut happens!”

As stated, I have heard that the peak of the rut generally falls 25 weeks after Easter (6 months and 1 week). In 2009 the Full moon following the spring equinox was April 9 (Easter was April 12). If you count forward 25 weeks you will land on the full moon in October 4th (or real close to it). Given the above theory of what triggers the rut you can clearly see the relationship between Easter and the rut. Or not.
Rick Nolan, SPHR
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Unread 08-30-2010, 04:31 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Garrison, MT
Posts: 1
Re: Elk Rut Question

I have been following those prediction dates for the last couple of years myself. Last year (2009) I found myself in the middle of what was obviously a "peak". I have never heard so much noise and seen so many bulls. They were all going nuts still around noon. The bulls were acting plumb stupid. I had to work around several spikes that wanted to kiss me. I finally killed a 6 point. The date: September 26, 2009. Just a couple of days before the beginning of the predicted peak dates. I went hunting again a few days later and nothing, although some hunters reported peak activity after that. Weather, moon, wolves, etc. all have something to say about it.
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