Jim, the answer may differ based on the different areas. In some northern areas, deer and elk tend to rut earlier by a few weeks than they do in southern regions. Here in Colorado, the rut will usually get hot and heavy around the 2nd or 3rd week of September.
Hiker is dead on for peak rut in Colorado. It varies by latitude, like whitetail. I'm not for sure, but I believe Montana and Canada are a few weeks earlier (at most) than Colorado and New Mexico or Arizona can be a few weeks later.
Any forum members want to comment on their region?
Hunting is not usually a pursuit where instant gratification abounds. It takes a lot of time, practice, resources and patience to be a successful hunter. So when someone decides that an area they hunted only once without taking an animal is worthless and devoid of game, I don't quite understand it. These people usually jump from game management unit to game management unit; trying a new one every year.
Now don't get me wrong, there are people that just enjoy scouting and hunting...