Cold weather is finally in the forecast, and quite a few Mid-South hunters are reporting secondary rut activity. There are late-season bow and muzzleloader hunting opportunities remaining in every Mid-South state, in addition to several late gun-hunting opportunities. With just a little help from the weather, the hunting could be pretty good over the next couple weeks. If you still have a deer tag, it’s worth getting out there.
The primary rut of 2012, of course, is a fading memory. This fall, I heard more anecdotal accounts than usual of slow rutting activity, and more than one hunting buddy described it as a “trickle rut.” But overall, hunters have had a pretty good year to this point.
Kentucky’s gun harvest is good example. The first weekend of modern gun season around here is intended to coincide with the rut’s peak.
The season ends in zones 1 and 2 the weekend after Thanksgiving (and a few days earlier in zones 3 and 4).
According to a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources press release, Bluegrass hunters killed 92,737 deer during the gun season, surpassing the previous record of 87,000 and change that had stood since 2004. Though it was a little warm and windy for many hunters’ liking throughout gun season, it didn’t rain on the weekends.
That, as much as anything, contributed to the big harvest, according to Tina Brunjes, deer and elk coordinator for KDFWR. The more often you’re in the woods, especially with a gun, the more likely you are to shoot a deer, rut activity or not.
We had a good early bow season, too, with archery hunters telechecking 5,557 deer (that's my wife, Michelle, with one of them) in September—a record for that month for the third consecutive year.
As of Dec. 7, Kentucky hunters have taken 118,664 deer total. The current all-time record is 124,752. Late muzzleloader season opens this weekend and runs for a full week. Bow season will remain open until Jan. 21.