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Winter Weather Could Kickstart the Rut

Overall activity status: Exactly one year ago a major winter storm pushed through the Great Plains, leaving snow in its wake and kickstarting major deer activity for the month of October. Well, here we are coming into the first weekend of the month and forecasters are predicting that another winter storm will sweep into the area starting Friday morning. Rain in the south and snow in the north, some of it heavy, will be driven along by high winds. Lucky for hunters, it looks like it will move through fairly quickly. I predict Saturday night and Sunday deer will be stretching their legs and fueling up well into the daylight hours after spending all day Friday hunkered down against the weather.

Fighting: A few reports of small bucks tickling antlers, but nothing too aggressive just yet.

Rub/Scrape making: The signs of fall are showing up on trees across the region. Spencer Neuharth reported seeing some rubs opening morning in southeastern South Dakota, though mostly on very small trees.

Daytime movement: Cooler weather and the start of corn and soybean harvest have deer on their feet during the daylight hours, though in southwest Kansas, Denton Rich of Mule Creek Outfitters (620.770.1257) reported that older bucks weren't moving out of the bedding areas until right at dark or after. "Cameras are showing most drinking from the water sources well after dark," said Rich. "They're still in the summer pattern here."

Estrous signs: None reported.

X Factor: I was hoping we'd make it through the rest of the year without having to report on any deer mortality due to EHD, but there are a few reported cases that are worth mentioning. In North Dakota, the Department of Fish and Game there have pulled a little more than 1,000 leftover antlerless deer licenses in units 3F1, 3F2 and 4F from the second lottery.

"The decision is based on previous years' experience where moderate to significant white-tailed deer losses were documented in situations similar to this year," said wildlife chief Randy Kreil. "While we first received reports of isolated deer deaths in August, loss of deer to this disease appears to have extended into September, and depending on the weather, may continue into October."

Hunters in South Dakota should also note officials there pulled any remaining doe tags in Perkins County, located in the northwest corner of the state, due to ongoing reports of EHD there as well.

Hopefully this weekend's storm will bring a hard freeze and help put an end to any more deer losses from EHD.

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