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’m so rarely right about anything that I have to take a moment and brag: In the wake of this week’s record winds, buck activity has positively exploded. I’m getting reports from happy hunters all over the region, as they witness increased buck movement and, in some cases, are able to fill a tag. This is that rarest of time frames during the rut cycle; only a few does are ready to breed, but the bucks are feeling it, big time. And unlike the past several seasons, when warm weather has limited daytime buck activity, temps are right where they need to be…I had 20 on my home thermometer this morning, and it will struggle to make 50 today. I can’t think of better conditions, for bucks and for hunters!
There’s another element of excitement during this period; calls (rattling, grunting, growling) are highly effective, as are decoys. Though cumbersome and noisy to carry, decoys are just a killer tactic right now. Bucks are actively roaming, looking to make contact with other deer. When they see a fake, chances are high they’re on the way to investigate. If you need proof, the dandy shown in the photo above was hoodwinked by a plastic challenger and gave the Wisconsin hunter a 15-yard shot. It can happen like that for you too…right now. Get out there!