This is shaping up to be the best whitetail rut I’ve seen in over a decade. I’ve had more phone calls and emails from excited hunters in the last week than I can keep up with, and it’s a good problem to have!

Why is the 2012 rut in the north central region so good? I attribute the great action to the alignment of two major factors that influence buck activity here. First and foremost, the weather in the last week has been stellar; sub-freezing temps at night, day time highs in the 40s, and no significant wind. Bucks that want to move have the perfect conditions to do so and, by most accounts, they’re taking advantage of them. The buck pictured above, a 167-inch Minnesota giant tagged by my friend Bob Borowiak, was shot on one of the crisp, windless mornings that have typified the last week.

Second, early corn harvests are either in full swing or done. For ag-country bucks, corn can be a primary source of cover…and one that can frustrate hunters trying to pattern them. With much of the corn crop out, bucks have been forced into wooded cover where hunters have a better chance of harvesting them. This will play an even greater role in the weeks to come, as the rut intensifies and even more ag fields are bare.

I believe there’s also a third factor at work: moon position. We’ve had more moons appearing in daylight this fall than normal. I believe that, all other conditions being favorable, a moon present in the daytime sky provides some impetus for bucks to move. I’ve had more than one biologist tell me I’m all wet on this, but I’ve just seen it too often to believe otherwise. Indeed, my father bagged his biggest buck to date this week (more on that in an upcoming report) and the full moon was visible as the buck appeared, long before sunset.

Whether I’m correct about moon position really doesn’t matter, though. The region’s bowhunters have been enjoying a banner year, and with firearms seasons soon to open in several states, I expect to hear more “happy hunter” reports in the days to come.