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Real-Time Updates From Our Rut Reporters
  • December 3, 2010

    Bruce: A Rut Between Ruts

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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.

    For much of the south, we are in an "in-between" phase where there really isn't a hot peak rut going on anywhere. There may be a few pockets here and there that are rutting or a few bucks chasing does that are coming into estrous at a non-typical time. But for the most part, we're in a lull.

    Georgia and South Carolina are about peaked out and Arkansas is close, but the best action is still to come for most of the other southern states. So what's a hunter to do when there is no on-going rut? If the bucks aren't actively on the move in a doe-seeking mode, the next best thing is always to look for and hunt food sources.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 3, 2010

    Landers: Rut Ebbing, Big Bucks Falling

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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.

    Dec. 3: Late-season hunters, especially those who get to hunt bucks with bows and muzzleloaders, are enjoying the fruits of the rut and the bonus of snow and little competition.

    In eastern Washington Unit 130, Gabe Bancroft, 14, enjoyed the complete package of being a successful deer hunter last weekend. Taking advantage of the late muzzleloader season that opens as the whitetail rut begins to ebb, he joined his uncle Shawn O'Kert to get in position where deer had been moving.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 2, 2010

    When Fights Get Big (and Serious)

    By Scott Bestul

    Every year we read stories and see photos of bucks that have locked antlers. The end is not usually happy for these deer, unless some benevolent, creative and daring soul finds them before exhaustion takes its toll. The bucks in the photo, a trio of locked-up monsters from Ohio, constitute the second time I’ve run across a report of three deer that fought to a lethal draw.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 2, 2010

    Bestul: Transition Time

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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.

    Nov. 30--Overall Activity Status: Gun seasons are either in full swing or winding down across much of the region. This has impacted rutting activity in some areas, particularly those that see heavy pressure. That said, I’ve had reports of bucks running does from Minnesota and Illinois hunters this week. In each instance, the area had thick cover or light hunter activity.

    Fighting: I rattled in three different bucks on a Kansas bowhunt last week. Though the rut is typically slightly later there, my experience reinforced my opinion that the sounds of sparring and fighting will attract bucks throughout the season. I’ve not talked to any hunters who’ve rattled in bucks lately, but I am never without my rattling horns. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 2, 2010

    Bleech: The Weather Factor

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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.

    Which is more important, ambient conditions or seasonal patterns? More specifically, can weather override the rut factor?

    Tuesday in western Pennsylvania, western New York and eastern Ohio, at the least, hunters had to put up with wind and rain. Deer generally are not bothered much by rain. Wind, though, usually affects them strongly by making them skittish. This is probably because it reduces use of their senses of smell and hearing. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 1, 2010

    Bruce: Rut Split in South

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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.

    Nov. 30--Overall Activity Status: The South is in an "in-between" stage overall in regard to the rut. Georgia and South Carolina are at the tail end of their ruts, while Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana are still about a month away from their peak action. Activity is often dictated by the weather here with warm temperatures slowing things down and the recent cold front increasing deer sightings.

    Fighting:
    Most fighting in GA and SC has diminished as the rut slows down. Light sparring is increasing in other states as the rut approaches. Steve McKenna of the McKenna Ranch in Mississippi [601-727-4926] reports that his younger bucks are practicing at sparring. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 1, 2010

    Video Tip: Hunt Near Water During The Rut

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    By Scott Bestul

    In this video, Scott Bestul shows why neglecting the importance of water to whitetails during the rut can be a big mistake for hunters. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 30, 2010

    Bleech: A Quiet Pennsylvania Opener

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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.

    How whitetail hunting has changed. From a local perspective, hunters see interest in it as either increasing or decreasing. It has been my good fortune to hunt deer in several states and provinces, and at several places around some of these. This has allowed me a slightly different perspective, that which shows more shifting than either increasing or decreasing interest in deer hunting.

    One way this affected my hunt on the opening day of the Pennsylvania season was that deer were not moving much because few hunters were in my vicinity. My wife, Jeri, and my truck-driving buddy, Dave Baker, and I hunted together near the edge of Big Woods and farm country. It was the first time I can recall when neither my wife nor I saw any deer during the Pennsylvania opening day. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 30, 2010

    Brantley: A Great Post-Rut Morning in Kentucky

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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.

    Nov. 29: Thanksgiving is family time, of course, and spending some of that family time in the woods makes for an especially enjoyable holiday. This year, my brother, Matt, drove in from South Carolina, where he’s working on his Master’s degree at Clemson University. A few weeks ago, Matt had told Dad and me that he wanted to do some deer hunting while he was in at Thanksgiving. It was the last weekend of Kentucky’s modern firearms season.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 30, 2010

    Landers: A Hot Rut in Cold Weather

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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.

    Nov. 29: The peak of whitetail breeding around the Western states clashed with bitter temperatures and snow in the past few days. Hunters who got out on the right side of a storm and man-upped to the cold had a good chance of finding their mark on bucks deep in the rut.

    Archers and other special-season participants are picking up where general rifle seasons have just ended in some states such as Washington and Montana.

    Here's a state-by-state rundown based on my observations and reports from hunters throughout the region. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 30, 2010

    Ray: A Longbow Muley--8 1/2 Years Old

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    By Brandon Ray

    Rut Reporter Brandon Ray is an expert on the region. Ray was born in Dallas and shot his first deer with a bow in Central Texas at the age of 15. The full-time freelance writer manages his family’s Texas Panhandle ranch, is a licensed New Mexico guide, and last year took a 184 gross P&Y non-typical trophy. States covered: TX, OK, NM.

    Nov. 29: What is a trophy? Is it all about big racks and inches? Does the overall experience factor in? Do the people you shared the hunt with matter more than what wears your tags? It’s an old cliché, but the trophy is truly in the eyes of the beholder.

    Every summer, I sit down and set personal goals for my hunting season. One was to shoot a deer with my longbow.

    The longbow was built by Mike Brattain in Raton, New Mexico, owner and bowyer at Double BB Bows. It’s a beautiful three-piece, take-down longbow that measures 62-inches. It draws 48 pounds at 28 inches as smooth as any stickbow I own. Coupled with Gold Tip Pro Hunter 35/55 carbon shafts, fletched with three, five inch feathers and tipped with 2-bladed German Kinetics broadheads, it shoots sweet. Total arrow weight is 475 grains. Shooting that bow, I set a personal limitation of 20 yards max for a shot at a deer. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 29, 2010

    Bleech: Look for Subtle Rut Activity

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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.

    Nov. 27: Note the thickness of the neck and waist on this buck. Although the rack is modest, the buck is probably 2-1/2 or 3-1/2 years-old. Bucks that live in large forested areas generally do not carry antlers of the same quality as bucks that live in areas where nourishment is much better. Acorn crops in the area have not been good for a couple of years. Acorns play a major role in deer nourishment throughout most of the Appalachian Region.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 29, 2010

    Ray: Near-Peak Rut in Oklahoma

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    By Brandon Ray

    Rut Reporter Brandon Ray is an expert on the region. Ray was born in Dallas and shot his first deer with a bow in Central Texas at the age of 15. The full-time freelance writer manages his family’s Texas Panhandle ranch, is a licensed New Mexico guide, and last year took a 184 gross P&Y non-typical trophy. States covered: TX, OK, NM.

    Nov. 26--Overall Activity Status: It's prime time in western Oklahoma. I just got home from three days of hunting along dry creeks that bordered big alfalfa and wheat fields in the western extreme of the state. My friend Shawn and I also glassed CRP fields and rolling sage-covered hills that surrounded the creek and agriculture. We saw the majority of deer during the last hour of the day in and around the wheat and alfalfa fields.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 29, 2010

    Draper: Busted-Up Racks and Daytime Deer

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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.

    Nov. 26--Overall Activity Status: We're falling off the backside of the peak rut throughout most of the Great Plains region, which makes activity hard to pinpoint. Things are literally day to day and area to area as bucks come out of lockdown and hit the road looking for estrous does that have yet to be bred. Matt Highby, hunting with Mule Creek Outfitters (620-770-1257; dentonrich@ymail.com) in southern Kansas checked in with this report: "I saw 8 bucks over 150 in four sits. The bucks were in full blown rut Friday night and Saturday."

    Fighting:
    I'm getting lots of reports of busted-up bucks from Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. Smaller bucks that have worn themselves out are probably not up for a fight, but bigger bucks may still be good for a scrap or two if they encounter other bucks out cruising. Still, this is a time for breeding, not fighting, so I wouldn't expect any epic battles to occur. [ Read Full Post ]