Ok guys and gals this is something that gets discussed and thrown around quite a bit so I wanted to have a discussion about it. Now this isn't meant to be argumentitive or make anyone look silly just to stimulate conversation and thought. I just want to speak apples to apples and is just something that has kind of been a pet peave of mine.
It's my belief that most hunters define the elk rut as: When the elk are bugling simply put. Based on the amount of bugling they hear most hunters try to categorize the stage of the rut and if it has started late or early and when they think it will end. This is most often blamed on weather and sometimes moon phase.
I believe this to be at least partially incorrect. Now I don't have any immediate references but I have read and talked to several sources and people smarter than me that say the rut is NOT tied to weather or moon phases. In fact I don't think anyone knows for sure what signals the elk to rut.
What I believe the true definition of the elk rut is this: Any hormonal conditions existing in individuals that make up a significant part of the elk popluation in a given area that causes those individuals to demonstrate any behavior where the end result or intention is to procreate. There are lots of rutting behaviors like; tearing up trees, fighting other bulls, chasing cows, rolling in a wallow, peeing on themselves, bugling, glucking, chuckling, wrestlessness, wandering, and many other subtle behaviors.
While I complete understand the intensity of those hormones and behaviors can vary greatly during the rutting period I still believe the constant songs sung by bulls and their complete disregard for their own well-being in the form of chasing cows at all costs, fighting other bulls, and responding to any variation of a call is only the tip of the iceberg, the climax if you will. I believe this to be the peak of the rut.
I also believe that weather, temperature, and moon phase have nothing to do with the start, end, or what stage the of the rut the elk are in. It's my belief that weather, temperature, and moon light only effect what time of day the elk are most active. It's my opinion that a bull on on September 15th in 100 degree weather is wanting to breed with a cow every bit as much as bull that on the same date is in 40 degree weather. I do believe the bull in 100 degree temps will not be bugling his head off, chasing cows, and fighting other bulls. His survival instincts and other biological processes tell him to sit under a tree and stay cool. He will simply wait until temps cool (at night) and get on with the business of mating at that point. Same with the cows.
I've read that some cows start coming into heat in late August and will come into heat every 30 days until bred up to 3 or 4 times. There are lots of cows that are bred in October and I've heard bugles into late October.
Yes you will have to change your tactics and from the hunters point of view it may appear that the rut is "slow", or "late", or what ever when the weather is warm or the moon is out but I believe the rut is still on as much as if the weather is cool. The elk are just active at more at night when we have our heads on our pillows dreaming about chasing them. Point is if you wait until the weather cools for different hunting conditions.....I get that it makes sense because elk will be more active during hunting hours and more responsive to calls. But on the other hand I don't think weather, temps, and moon light have ANY affect on the TIMING of the rut or the intensity of it.
IMO they are rutting from end of August to end of October and the peak is in mid to late September period. Weather only dictates hunting conditions NOT rut stages.
What are your thoughts?