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Photo Galleries

  • Giant Buck Alert: Kansas 18-Point Gross Scores 194
  • 199-Inch Wisconsin Monster Buck
  • Biggest Pure Kentucky 8-Pointer Ever Measured
  • New World Record 8-Point Whitetail
  • A Bizarre 23-Point Maryland Buck
Real-Time Updates From Our Rut Reporters
  • November 8, 2013

    Estrous Scent, Calling Are Drawing Bucks

    By Mike Bleech

    In his stand early, Chad Foster had just settled in when he heard footsteps from behind. Two bucks were approaching. They caught his scent, however, and they ran off, snorting as they went. Half an hour later, two more bucks approached from the same direction. It appeared that the bucks were smelling the doe-in-estrous scent he used. But again the bucks did not like something, and they snorted as they ran off. All of this was due to the swirling winds of November in Crawford County, Pa.
     
    After a half-hour Foster bleated three times with a bleat can, then blew a couple of tending grunts. After a minute one of the bucks that had just run off came back. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 7, 2013

    Bucks Are Deep Into The Seeking Phase

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    By David Draper

    Overall activity status: In the words of Chain Ranch guide Jerick Henley, things are "heating up." In an e-mail earlier this week from south-central Kansas, he said "bucks are deep into the seeking phase with noses on the ground checking every doe they can find. This is causing them to leave their core areas and begin showing themselves at all hours of the day." He also sent along this photo of a hunter who traveled to Kansas from New York for a six-day hunt and tagged this beautiful 160-class buck within the first 30 minutes of his hunt on Monday.

    Fighting: Bucks are definitely in a fighting mood. Last Saturday Clete Frazell had an encounter with an aggressive buck in central Kansas. "I had one of the neatest experiences I have had as a deer hunter," said Frazell. "I had seen zero deer at 8:30 when I looked up and saw a mature buck coming across a pasture straight toward my decoy. He snort wheezed at 10 yards, and proceeded to knock the crap out of my decoy sending parts flying everywhere." Frazell predicts the rut will be in full swing within the next week or so, but right now it's hit or miss. "Just being in the right place at the right time as I didn't see another buck the rest of the weekend, but a ton of does."

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 7, 2013

    Young Bucks Will Chase On Principle, Old-Timers Don't Waste Energy

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    By Scott Bestul

    Overall activity: Generally, deer movement has been good to excellent in the region. Cool weather continues, the corn harvest has progressed (and forced deer into the timber) and the rut is working its magic. The next 7-10 days should bring some very good bucks past hunters.

    Fighting: Plenty of reports of bucks with broken tines, and response to rattling and grunting has been excellent as a rule. Travis Bucholz, guide for Tri-State Outfitters, witnessed several bucks snort-wheezing at other bucks, and saw one buck with several broken tines (and one eye missing) on a recent hunt.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 6, 2013

    A Front-Row Seat to the Rut Show

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    By Eric Bruce

    One of the main reasons that we as hunters love the rut so much is that it brings out the big mature bucks like nothing else. Seeing a trophy buck perform its rutting ritual is a grand experience.

    My 15-year old son, Tucker, was able to observe a rutting buck up close last weekend. Set up on a wooded hillside beside a gas line, he spotted an 8-point buck beside his stand about 30 minutes after dawn. He tried to get his bow ready for the shot but the buck kept walking. He did notice that the buck kept looking back and when Tucker turned to look that way, he saw a magnificent mature 8-point buck.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 6, 2013

    A Father-Son Double-Up in Kansas

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    By David Draper

    Of all the states in the Great Plains region, it seems like Kansas has been the first to blow up this year. After Monday's post about Jerick Henley's Chain Ranch buck, I received a few more reports from other hunters in the Sunflower State. All said about the same thing—get ready.

    Just check out this e-mail and the attached photo from Nathan Oehlert, who hunts in south-central Kansas: "It's on in Kansas for sure. I have seen several big mature bucks hardcore chasing does. …they were in the stage of not caring who is watching them and going step for step with the does, trying to cut them off. My dad [Doug Oehlert] and brother [Jeremy Oehlert] both killed good bucks on the evening of the November 2. They were about 60 miles apart but my brother sent my dad a text after he shot his and told him "I just killed a buck" and my dad's reply was "Awesome, so did I". So I am thinking they had to have shot them nearly at the same time or within minutes of each other which, is pretty cool."

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 6, 2013

    The Rut Could Explode Any Day

    By Mike Bleech

    Overall Activity Status: Cooler weather and increased rutting activity has deer moving a lot now. Mostly it has been at night, though. The bigger bucks are increasingly visible, but almost exclusively at night on the trail cameras.

    Fighting: Maybe bucks of fairly equal stature will fight over a hot doe. But to a large extent the bucks have dominance sorted out by now. Fights will probably be brief struggles.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 5, 2013

    Serious Seeking, Chasing, Fighting in Wisconsin

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    By Scott Bestul

    Travis Bucholz, who guides for Tri-State Outfitting, is only 33, but he's put in enough hours in a treestand to really know his stuff. And what Bucholz saw last Saturday afternoon in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, had him very excited about his morning hunt on Sunday. "I watched a deer we call the Apple Tree buck walk past me, and he was just a mess; one eye was gone, and the right side of his rack was busted up from fighting," he says. "As he walked toward a huge-bodied 8-point, the other buck scared him off with a loud snort-wheeze. By the end of that sit, I'd seen six different bucks, and that big 8 had snort-wheezed all night. I bet he did it 15 or 20 times. With that many bucks around, and acting the way they were, I knew there had to be a doe in heat in the area."

    The next morning, Bucholz took a stand deeper in the woods, where he'd seen most of the bucks head at the end of Saturday's hunt. "I was actually a little late getting set up because of the time change," he says. "It was shooting light when I finally settled in, and I'd just started can-calling, followed by tending grunts, when the woods just came alive. First a pair of nice 3-year-old bucks came in, and both snapped their heads toward an upwind ravine. They headed right toward it, and I knew they could smell other deer in there. Well, they'd just reached that ravine when they turned and came trotting out. Behind them, already in bow range, came this monster, walking toward me. I was already holding my bow thank goodness, because I still barely had time to make the shot."

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 5, 2013

    Unusually Slow November Kick-Off: ‘We’re In An Atypical Funk’

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    By Will Brantley

    Overall Activity Status
    From the bow shop to the hunting talk forums to my own personal observations from sitting in the woods and checking trail cameras, the activity report in this region for the first of November was unusually slow. I hunted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and though I saw deer each day, the pace was lackluster to say the least. I don’t have a Kentucky buck tag right now, but it wouldn’t have mattered if I did. The only buck I saw from the stand was a young 6-pointer that was focused on acorns. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 5, 2013

    ‘This Blown-Up Scrape Makes My Teeth Chatter’

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    By Jeff Holmes

    Overall Activity Status:
    Troy Pottenger of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, is a Nextbuk pro-staffer and is hands down the most accomplished fair-chase whitetail hunter in the inland Northwest.  When he talks, I listen – hard.
     
    The walls of his home look like an exhibition of monster whitetails, some taken from the Midwest, Saskatchewan, and points in between, but most arrowed on public land in Eastern Washington or North Idaho. Pottenger spends a tremendous amount of time in the field, and his excited text message to me late last night brought the picture and news this inland Northwest whitetail hunter has been waiting to see and hear. This blown up scrape on a traditional scrapeline makes my teeth chatter thinking about being out there. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 4, 2013

    Reports of Chasing in North Texas

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    By Brandon Ray

    Overall Activity Status: In a state as large as Texas, it should come as no surprise that reports could vary so much. Most hunters report limited deer sightings on opening weekend of gun season, confined to sunrise and sunset. Ronnie Parsons reports no chasing in the Hill Country. Friends in the Panhandle report no chasing. South Texas, ditto. But one report of great action in north Texas indicates the rut is happening there.

    Fighting: None reported.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 4, 2013

    This Big Kansas 8-Point Was Still Following A Feed-To-Bed Pattern

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    By David Draper

    This beautiful eight point showed up on my Facebook feed last week and I tracked down the hunter—Jerick Henley, to get the details. Henley is also a guide on the Chain Ranch in both Oklahoma and Kansas, where he tagged the buck.

    Here's his story: "I've got a two month history with this deer, capturing him in velvet on trail cameras in late August for the first time. I hunted him twice in late September when he was still in his summer feeding pattern and running with two younger and smaller bucks. He never presented a good shot during those two sits.  

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • Rattling, Calling, Decoying, and Scents Work Now, as Rut Intensifies

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    By Scott Bestul

    Our rut-reporting team knows things are getting serious each fall when we start getting bombarded with pictures of successful hunters, and this week proved that the Big Show is gaining steam. Great field photos of dandy bucks showed up from every region, and the stories behind these pics, as well as our reporters’ field observations, reveal what tactics are working now.

    This past week, Mid-south reporter Will Brantley discussed his success using urine-based scents during this time frame, and a number of my sources have reported the same, especially with scent-soaked drag rags. [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 1, 2013

    All Signs Read, Great Hunting Just Ahead

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    By Scott Bestul

    Overall Activity: We seem to be stuck in hit-and-miss mode, with some hunters experiencing flurries of good activity, while others wonder when the bucks are going to start. On the bright side, some of the better action has visited the region's youth hunters. Winona, Minnesota, hunter Cassie Warren, 10, was hunting with her dad, Christopher, during Minnesota's recent youth deer season when she shot this fantastic buck with a muzzleloader. Cassie had decided to wait for a nice buck (despite her dad's insistence to shoot whatever she wanted) and was finally rewarded. I doubt I'll see a hunter with a bigger smile this fall!

    Fighting: I've received very few reports of serious buck fights, but they're obviously occurring. Early this week, an area bowhunter shot a heavy-beamed, 140-class, 13-point buck with several broken tines; clear evidence that dominance battles are getting serious.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • November 1, 2013

    Bucks Chasing Does Throughout The Great Plains

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    By David Draper

    Overall activity status: I apologize for the quality of the photograph here, which was e-mailed to me from Jeremy Atkins of Big and J but I think it's worth featuring here to show that, in eastern Nebraska at least, big bucks are starting to pay more attention to does during the daylight hours. In southwest Kansas, Denton Rich of Mule Creek Outfitters (620-770-1257) reports "from Saturday to today bucks are actively checking does. Most bucks' necks on camera are swollen and the deer are becoming less nocturnal. Several bucks are showing up that I haven't seen before." Farther north in the Dakotas, Spencer Neuharth checked in to say his West River hunt wasn't successful, but "the bucks we did observe from afar were chasing does. Both muleys and whitetails." All this is clear indication that we are ramping up to full rut in the next week to 10 days.

    Fighting: Denton Rich also reports that bucks in his area are more aggressive and he's see a few broken points.

    [ Read Full Post ]

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