November 24, 2009
Weekly Rut Report
By Scott Bestul
First off, apologies to readers of this blog for the absence of last week’s rut report. Due to some technical difficulties it did not get posted, and I’ve received at least one email wondering what was up. Hopefully we’re back on track now.
Just returned from a hunt in western Kansas (and no, that was not the source of the “technical difficulty” mentioned above!) where I experienced an interesting hunt. Just as in other places I’ve hunted this fall, standing crops (in this case, corn and milo) seemed to impact traditional deer patterns. Here in the Midwest, an unusually late harvest has created a sea of cover that rutting whitetails don’t normally enjoy. In short, if you can hunt the edges of standing crop fields, you have a decent chance of meeting a good buck. If your property does not sport unharvested fields but they’re in the neighborhood, you can be in for some long, unproductive sits.
I have another excuse for my failure to kill a buck. Pheasant season was on, and though I’ve enjoyed great deer hunting during Kansas bird season in the past, this year brought an unprecedented number of upland guys to the area. Virtually every day a group of bird hunters and their dogs would work cover adjacent to our tree stands, and the result was some highly nervous deer. Obviously, I don’t begrudge the pheasant boys their sport (I’m a ringneck addict myself) but next fall I’ll time my visit before the upland hunting begins.
Make no mistake here; hunting pressure (whether for quail, ducks, or deer) does not deter bucks from seeking, chasing and breeding does. This rutting activity is going to happen no matter what. However, the when and where of breeding behavior can be highly influenced by human activity. In my experience, pressure causes deer shift to areas within their home range that include thick cover (including standing crops) and move more readily at night. Anyone else with similar reports?
Still, staying out of the woods is not an option, no matter how difficult the hunting. After all, you could always find a monster running large, just as Illinois bowhunter Raymond Voss did last week. This fine Prairie State buck (above) was spotted by one of Raymond’s neighbors one afternoon. Rather than keep mum about the giant, Tim Walmsley told Raymond about the active buck. The next day, Mr. Voss set up in that area and arrowed the giant. Always nice to have a friend who’s willing to share!