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Photo Galleries

  • Giant Buck Alert: Kansas 18-Point Gross Scores 194
  • 199-Inch Wisconsin Monster Buck
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  • New World Record 8-Point Whitetail
  • A Bizarre 23-Point Maryland Buck
Real-Time Updates From Our Rut Reporters
  • December 7, 2012

    Discrete Cover Holds Bucks Now

    3

    By Scott Bestul

    Illinois bowhunter Marc Anthony isn’t afraid to think outside the box. For starters, Anthony—whom I’ve written about several times in the last few years—doesn’t hunt from a tree stand. He’s a ground-pounder who uses a gillie suit as camouflage, then slips close to some really big deer and shoots them with a bow. In short, he’s not your typical Midwestern bowhunter. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 7, 2012

    A Second-Chance, Late-Season Trophy

    1

    By David Draper

    With all the build-up that goes into hunting the rut, spending time on stand during the late seasons can seem like a real letdown. Deer movement is at a minimum, and there’s that lingering thought in the back of your head that all the good deer were either taken during rifle seasons or are now laid up, licking their wounds. It’s almost enough to keep all but the most dedicated hunters out of the field.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 7, 2012

    Good Sign + Good Land + Smart Hunting = Great Buck

    1

    By Eric Bruce

    Three elements that go a long way toward helping you put a tag on a buck are rut sign, a pinch point, and lightly hunted land. Dakota Owens and his father, Chris, found and utilized all three and did indeed fill a tag—with the tremendous Georgia ten-pointer shown here.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 6, 2012

    Food and Force Will Fill Tags Now

    4

    By Scott Bestul

    The breeding peak has long passed in much of the region, which is a good news/bad news affair. The bad, of course, is that the long-awaited crazy time has slipped away for another year. The good news is actually two-fold: There’ll be another (though minor) wave of rut activity in the next week or 10 days, and bucks will find those late-cycling does (and newly cycling fawns) near food sources. If you can find a hot food source now, your chances of getting close to a nice buck will skyrocket. Guess correctly on your stand site—like Logan Marum did on the dandy Wisconsin buck shown above—and you can still tag a monster. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 6, 2012

    Rut Is on, but Heat Hinders Movement

    0

    By Brandon Ray

    Overall activity status: Hot weather still hangs over the region. High temperatures in the 70s and 80s have been common. Some locations are tying or breaking all-time record highs. In the afternoons, the short 30-minute window from sunset to dark provides the best odds for seeing an old buck. Cool mornings provide a good chance for seeing a buck on the move, before the day heats up. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 6, 2012

    Late-Season Bowhunters Will Find that Rut Isn't Over

    0

    By Jeff Holmes

    Overall activity status: Most rifle opportunities out West have closed or are drawing to a close for the season, and in the case of Wyoming, deer hunting just drew to a close altogether, just as the rut peaked.
     
    Mike Reinhart of Wind River Whitetails near Riverton, Wyoming, has been a key source for Western rut info this year, and he reports that bucks were still going at it in Wyoming as deer seasons drew to a close on December 1. They ended a highly successful 2012 season on November 30 with this crooked-antlered buck, culled from Rinehart's growing whitetail herd by Justin Sheehan of Riverton. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 6, 2012

    Bonus Report: A Big Panhandle Muley

    3

    By Brandon Ray

    These reports focus on the whitetail rut, but there are mule deer as well as whitetails in my part of Texas. Year-round observations of muleys on our ranch in the Panhandle indicate that their rut starts later than whitetails. Typically, the muley bucks start acting interested in girls about Thanksgiving. But not until December 1 or later do they really start chasing and acting goofy. While November is the month to hunt rutting whitetails in the central and northern half of Texas, December is the month to see mule deer in the rut. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 5, 2012

    Rut Ramping Down in Some States, Increasing in Others

    3

    By Eric Bruce

    Overall activity status: In South Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas, the rut is starting to wane and rampant chasing and cruising is slowing down, but there are still reports of rut activity. Jeff Atkinson hunts in Dooly County, Georgia and saw significant chasing and rut activity throughout November. “I saw more chasing this year than ever before,” Jeff said. “And they're still chasing down there.” Activity is on the increase in pre-rut states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana as bucks are laying down more rut sign. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 5, 2012

    Some Young Does Coming into Estrus

    1

    By Mike Bleech

    Rutting behavior has been unusual this year, and more evidence of that comes from David Hartman, president of the New York State Whitetail Management Coalition. There are many scrapes and rubs in his southern Catskill region, but this year there is a new twist to it: Deer have been using pine and hemlock as licking limbs over scrapes.
     
    “I’ve never seen them do that before,” Hartman said.
     
    Bucks were chasing does during the first week of rifle season, which started November 17 in his area. But that has ceased. He attributes it to the normal behavior of deer being mostly nocturnal once firearms season opens. [ Read Full Post ]

  • Knowledge and Communication The Keys to Killing Bucks Now

    2

    By Scott Bestul

    In case you haven’t been keeping track, we’re into our third month of reporting on the 2012 rut here at Field & Stream. That’s a lot of information, stories, and analysis, not only by our reporters, but also from the experts they interview. I’m enjoying my 40th deer season this fall and I’m still learning from them.

    South Central reporter Brandon Ray brought up an excellent point—and a needed skill—as he discussed the rut in his area: the art of tracking and monitoring the rut each fall, then using the information from past years to not only forecast next year’s rut, but decide on the best techniques to use as the season unfolds. One of the most common mistakes made by deer hunters (and I know because I made it again this fall in Wisconsin) is to slightly miss the signs that mark the onset of serious rut activity. This omission puts us one step behind the deer...which is rarely a good place to be. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 4, 2012

    Calling Gets Deer Moving (if not Exactly to the Right Spot)

    2

    By Mike Bleech

    Hunting a new area is always fun, especially when you find as much deer sign as I’d found on a farm country wood lot in northwestern Pennsylvania where I had gained hunting permission. Somewhat surprisingly, but keeping in line with the unusual rut this year, I found no scrapes and just one rub on a finger-size sapling.
     
    Late in the afternoon, with my wife, Jeri, on stand about 50 yards to the east from my stand, I started calling, using my bleat-grunt-grunt sequence. It seemed like the perfect time and place to do so, since we were close to land where we could not hunt, and we knew of no other hunters in the area. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 4, 2012

    Indisputable Video Evidence That the Rut Is Still On

    0

    By Eric Bruce

    Seeing and bagging a trophy buck is at the top of every deer hunter's list. But a close second would have to be observing a buck fight or watching a buck breed a doe. The latter is what Steve Harrison checked off his list on Thanksgiving week. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 3, 2012

    Weather and Firearms Seasons Are Biggest Influences Now

    0

    By Scott Bestul

    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. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 3, 2012

    Bucks Still Fighting; Rut Picking up in the North

    0

    By Mike Bleech

    Overall Activity Status: Deer activity is better than it has been through most of this fall. It is not, however, universal throughout the region, nor is it a great deal of activity.

    Fighting: Some hunters are still reporting signs of serious fighting. Robert Rogan, in Connecticut, noticed that a 10-point buck he has been chasing was missing 3 inches from its G3 tine. This seems to be awfully late for so much visible fighting. Signs of fighting seldom are found in great numbers.

    Rub & Scrape Making: Finally, a report of rutting activity in Maine. From northern Maine at Matagamon Wilderness Camps,  owner and guide Joe Christianson said that bucks have been scraping for two weeks. I hunted with Christianson a couple seasons ago and took a bear that qualified for the Maine Antlers & Skulls Record Book. While there I saw more game than I usually see in the north. At least some of this I attribute to the acorn crop. Oak trees generally are so not common in the North Woods as they are along the East Branch of the Penobscot River.

    [ Read Full Post ]

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