Overall activity status: Deer movement has been a mixed bag in the region this week. In areas where the firearms seasons have been closed for a few days, deer are resuming normal feeding activity. Iowa’s first of two shotgun seasons opened on Saturday, and in Illinois the shotgun hunt continues. Expect subdued movement in those states.
Fighting: No reports of big fights breaking out lately. I expect to hear of skirmishes as post-rut bucks gather near food sources.
Rub making: I spotted a couple of fresh rubs as I hung some trail cameras this week. All were located near good feeding areas.
Scrape making: This week I also checked out a bunch of scrapes made during the rut; none had been reworked. Also, I pulled a trail camera that’s been on a cluster of scrapes for two weeks. Though several bucks swung past the scrapes, none of them stopped to work one of them.
Chasing: I’ve received some interesting reports on buck/doe interactions at food sources this week. One Minnesota bowhunter told me he watched several does feeding in a picked cornfield this week. Several minutes later, a decent buck appeared and began feeding with the does. After eating for awhile, the buck suddenly lifted his head and began chasing the does around, like he’d just noticed them. As we enter early December, some unbred does and fawns will kick-start more of this behavior.
Daytime movement: Between odd weather (temps are highly variable lately; hard freezing one day, a chance of rain the next) and hunting pressure, it’s tough to predict if—and when—deer will move during daylight. However, with food sources shrinking (lots of plowed fields in farm country) I expect deer to move fairly well in daylight. If we get cold and snow, action will be excellent.
Estrous signs: Nothing solid to report. As noted above, some bucks are badgering does, but I haven’t heard any reports of full-blown chasing.
X Factor: Weather and hunting pressure will continue to be the major influences on hunting success. If generally warm weather persists in the region, late-season hunters will have a tough go of it. And with firearms hunting still a factor (especially in Iowa and Illinois) normal bed-to-feed activity will be reduced in many areas. That said, Iowa’s shotgun season always produces some monster whitetails, and I look forward to seeing some photos of trophy bucks in the days ahead.