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Photo Galleries

  • Giant Buck Alert: Kansas 18-Point Gross Scores 194
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Real-Time Updates From Our Rut Reporters
  • September 27, 2011

    Draper: Waiting for Bucks to Show

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    By David Draper

    Rut Reporter David Draper grew up hunting deer and small game throughout this region and presently lives on a family farm in Nebraska. Draper, former communications specialist for Cabela’s and an authority on the Great Plains, subsists on a diet of duck breast and venison. States covered: ND, SD, NE and KS.

    Hunting seasons have been open for about a week or more in all four Great Plains states, and reports from hunters across the region are starting to trickle in. Unfortunately, trophy photos are still non-existent as it seems that bucks hunters had been watching all summer have disappeared. Such is the nature of early season, especially a warm one like we’ve had so far this year.

    Much of the region has yet to experience a hard frost, and daytime temperatures are still running in the 80s, making for some hot, mosquito-heavy days on stand. It’s also transition time as bachelor groups starting breaking up and food sources change, though an alfalfa field that has been hot all summer is still going to hold plenty of deer. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 27, 2011

    Bleech: Notes From a Buck Fight

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    By Mike Bleech

    Northeast Rut Reporter Mike Bleech has been hunting whitetails in his native Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast for more than four decades. A Vietnam veteran and full-time freelance outdoor writer, Bleech has had more than 5000 of his articles published. States covered: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA OH, MD, DE.

    Cruising around the southern tier of New York late in the evening I spotted a nice buck about 10 yards into a field. Judging from its' thick waist I guessed it to be 4 1/2 years old. The rack was good; not great, but good, maybe 18 inches on the outside of the spread, with nine or ten points.

    I had pulled onto the berm and was watching that nice buck through the old and worn 10x28 Bausch & Lomb Discoverer binoculars that I keep in the truck, hanging behind the driver’s seat with the strap over the headrest. A movement to the left caught my attention, so I swung the binoculars and saw another buck approaching at the edge of the field. The new arrival was a smaller animal with a narrow 6-point rack. I would wager a dollar to a donut that it was a 1-1/2 year-old buck. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 27, 2011

    Landers: Bigger Antlers, Mixed Conditions in Montana

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    By Rich Landers

    Rut Reporter Rich Landers, a native Montanan and life-long hunter, is the outdoors editor for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane. He has written several books about the western outdoors and has hunted whitetails all his life. States covered: WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, CO.

    Some archery whitetail specialists are overcoming the crispy woods of the West to tag their bucks this week. Archers, including the one above at Keith Miller’s Montana Whitetails, continue to find bucks in river bottoms. But it's safe to say the majority of hunters have either been focusing on elk or maybe waiting for more seasonable weather as they watch whitetail activity out the corners of their eyes.

    But hunters like what they are seeing. Idaho and Montana hunters in several areas are reporting noticeably larger antler growth this year.

    Eastern Washington temperatures hit record highs on Saturday, stifling activity before moving into a more seasonable pattern starting on Sunday. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 26, 2011

    Bestul: Why Weather Watchers Win

    By Scott Bestul

    Rut Reporter Scott Bestul is a Field & Stream’s Whitetails columnist and writes for the website’s Whitetail365 blog. The Minnesotan has taken 13 Pope & Young-class whitetails and has hunted, guided for, and studied deer in the north-central region all his life. States covered: IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, WI.

    As noted in this blog, and as reported by our reporters in other regions, tagging a buck now often hinges on finding his food source. Or, make that food “sources.” That’s what my good friend and neighbor Dave Olson did the other day, when he tagged this gorgeous Minnesota ten point. Dave was manning a ladder stand over one of his food plots when this handsome trophy walked in, 45 minutes before dusk. Dave made a great shot on the buck and I helped him find it the next day.

    But here’s the kicker: that’s the same buck in the accompanying trail cam photo, which was taken two weeks earlier on a farm nearly ¾ of a mile away. In the photo, the buck is working a small stand of white oaks that have been dropping acorns for two weeks. It’s not uncommon for acorns to make deer obsessive for a stretch, ignoring other prime food sources as they focus feeding and activity to a relatively small area. It can make for some tough hunting if you’re not hanging in a white oak during such a period. [ Read Full Post ]

  • Late September Means Transition Time

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    By Scott Bestul

    All but a few states have some form of deer season open right now, and a careful read of reports from around the country can be summed up pretty simply: it’s transition time. I’ve long felt that successful whitetail hunters are the ones who can adapt to the ever-shifting needs and moods of the deer they pursue, and this phase of the season justifies that belief. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 23, 2011

    Bleech: Rubs and Loner Bucks

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    By Mike Bleech

    Northeast Rut Reporter Mike Bleech has been hunting whitetails in his native Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast for more than four decades. A Vietnam veteran and full-time freelance outdoor writer, Bleech has had more than 5000 of his articles published. States covered: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA OH, MD, DE.

    Overall Activity Status: Deer activity, including that of bucks, is still based on feeding activity. Numerous bucks can be seen at apple trees, but just one buck at a time. The 9-point is feeding in a hidden, old apple orchard in the picture below.

    Fighting: We are generally seeing only lone bucks, especially as it relates to the older bucks. As far as fighting goes, a hunter is very fortunate ever to witness actual fighting. More frequently we just see bucks almost timidly brushing antlers against one another. But the time is getting right for it to happen. Dominance will long have been established by the time breeding becomes more frequent. If you want to attract deer by rattling, this might be a good time to start. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 23, 2011

    Landers: Deer Weather Moves In

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    By Rich Landers

    Rut Reporter Rich Landers, a native Montanan and life-long hunter, is the outdoors editor for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane. He has written several books about the western outdoors and has hunted whitetails all his life. States covered: WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, CO.

    Cooler weather and the waning moon are ushering in a new phase of activity for whitetail bucks in some areas of the West.

    "Some of the guys have been reporting light to a little more aggressive sparring," said Keith Miller of Montana Whitetails near Bozeman. "One hunter was full draw on a 130-class buck sparring under his stand with another buck, but couldn't get a shot as they kept moving around and the big buck chased the smaller one off. He said it was a little more aggressive than typical for this time of year.

    "I noticed lots of young bucks sparring, just playing around in the fields. Typical activity for bucks sharing the same home range once they shed their velvet." [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 23, 2011

    Bestul: Early Rubs- Big or Small, Love ‘em All

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    By Scott Bestul

    Rut Reporter Scott Bestul is a Field & Stream’s Whitetails columnist and writes for the website’s Whitetail365 blog. The Minnesotan has taken 13 Pope & Young-class whitetails and has hunted, guided for, and studied deer in the north-central region all his life. States covered: IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, WI.

    I just returned from a three-day bowhunt in northern Wisconsin. My friend Tom and I spent our time on public land, hunting heavily-forested areas. Though the terrain and vegetation is more Canadian than corn country, we take the same basic approach to deer hunting in the northwoods that we do anywhere. Step one is to find the food. Tom and I focused on two main sources; a small but splendid crop of white oak acorns, and the edges of recent clearcuts.

    After finding fresh feeding signs, we nailed down stand locations by looking for rubs like the one pictured above. No, it’s not a monster rub on a big tree… but I’d bet it was made by a nice buck. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 23, 2011

    Draper: South Dakota Outlook

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    By David Draper

    Rut Reporter David Draper grew up hunting deer and small game throughout this region and presently lives on a family farm in Nebraska. Draper, former communications specialist for Cabela’s and an authority on the Great Plains, subsists on a diet of duck breast and venison. States covered: ND, SD, NE and KS.

    Much like their colleagues in Nebraska, big-game managers in South Dakota have been working the past few years to get a handle on burgeoning whitetail populations, especially in the units east of the Missouri River. And like Nebraska, it seems to be working.

    “We’ve been trying to get on top of the deer herd and, for the most part, have been successful,” said Andy Lindbloom, senior big-game biologist for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department. “Numbers have stabilized in a lot of the areas, and in some units, particularly those in the far eastern part of the state, we’re seeing smaller herd numbers.”

    Lindbloom expects this year’s deer harvest to be very similar to those in 2010 and 2009. West River hunters killed about 34,000 deer last year, down slightly from nearly 35,000 in 2009. East River hunters took 40,000 deer in 2010, which was up from 33,000 the year before. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 23, 2011

    Brantley: Early Season Patterns Fading

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    By Will Brantley

    Rut Reporter Will Brantley of Murray, Kentucky, knows the region well. He spends 40 to 50 days each season in the Mid-South whitetail woods. Brantley shot his first deer at age 10 with a sidelock muzzleloader. States covered: KY, TN, WV, VA, NC.



    Overall Activity Status:
    The weather was damp and cool early in the week in western Kentucky, and that seemed to have deer— bucks included— on their feet a little earlier than usual in the evenings. Since Tuesday it’s been sunny and warmer, and while movement is still pretty good, most of it has been right at dark. Farther east, Wayne County, North Carolina hunter Jerimiah Waddell reports that rainy weather in his area the past three days has had deer on their feet at all hours of the day. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 23, 2011

    Bruce: Yes, Florida Has Some Big Bucks

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    By Eric Bruce

    Rut Reporter Eric Bruce has been writing about hunting and fishing for newspapers and magazines for 25 years and hunts deer all over the South, including near his Georgia home. States covered: AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, FL.

    Florida has the earliest deer season in the country, starting July 30 in the extreme southern portion of the state. That region is better known for beaches, everglades, and palm trees, but deer hunters are out now pursing whitetails. The state is divided into four zones with the entire state getting in on the hunting action by late October.

    With sandy soils and sparse agriculture, the Sunshine state is not exactly a hotbed for Boone & Crocketts, but it does produce some handsome trophies. Every year Florida hunters bag bucks scoring over 130 inches all the way up to 170.

    The Florida Buck Registry keeps track of the biggest bucks taken in Florida each season. In the 2010-11 season, there were 48 bucks taken that scored over 130 inches, with five scoring over 150. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 23, 2011

    Brantley: First Rubs Appearing

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    By Will Brantley

    Rut Reporter Will Brantley of Murray, Kentucky, knows the region well. He spends 40 to 50 days each season in the Mid-South whitetail woods. Brantley shot his first deer at age 10 with a sidelock muzzleloader. States covered: KY, TN, WV, VA, NC.

    With an especially cool and pleasant September throughout much of the Mid-South this season, it seems as though fall has already been here for a while. The hardwoods are beginning to show a few hints of autumn color. Even though the official first day wasn’t until today, the day of the Fall Equinox, finding the first rub line of the year, shown in this video, sealed the deal for me. Fall is here, and the pre-rut is nipping at its' heels. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 22, 2011

    Draper: Signs of Things to Come

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    By David Draper

    Rut Reporter David Draper grew up hunting deer and small game throughout this region and presently lives on a family farm in Nebraska. Draper, former communications specialist for Cabela’s and an authority on the Great Plains, subsists on a diet of duck breast and venison. States covered: ND, SD, NE and KS.

    Although Nebraska’s archery opener was last Thursday, I didn’t make it out until this morning. And then it was only for a quick hunt that turned out to be more just a walk in the woods. From all accounts I haven’t been missing much, as deer activity has been very minimal. A few hunters have been punching their antlerless tags, but no reports of big bucks on the ground yet. [ Read Full Post ]

  • September 22, 2011

    Bleech: The Moon and the Rut

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    By Mike Bleech

    Northeast Rut Reporter Mike Bleech has been hunting whitetails in his native Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast for more than four decades. A Vietnam veteran and full-time freelance outdoor writer, Bleech has had more than 5000 of his articles published. States covered: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA OH, MD, DE.

    We are now getting into the period when rutting changes start happening fast, at least if you are not paying attention. You are probably not as fortunate as I am, in that I get out to scout just about every day year-round. But that's my job. I have seen two significant things happening over the past week. And from contacts with serious deer hunters all over the region, I know these, for practical purposes, can be said to be regional observations.

    Most entertaining, bucks have shed the velvet from their antlers. This does not mean that you absolutely will not see another set of antlers in the velvet this fall, but we can summarize that the bucks have shed the velvet from their antlers. [ Read Full Post ]