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. 10:** If you need additional proof of the craziness that is the whitetail rut, look no further than Michigan. That’s where a pair of fishermen–after steelhead in the St. Joe River–saw a pair of giant bucks engaged in a knock-down fight on the river bank. The fight carried the bucks into the river, where they both eventually drowned. According to reports at this time, the DNR issued tags allowing the fishermen to keep the carcasses.


Southern Michigan is a well-known producer of trophy whitetails, and these mature animals would qualify as whoppers anywhere. They also serve as proof of an annual occurrence in this region each November. Two mature animals, one of which is probably far from his home territory, encounter each other. Likely there is a hot doe nearby. And like two bullies, neither buck is ready to give ground. Had these two bucks known each other, this fight would likely not have occurred…


At any rate, fights like this serve as proof of the effectiveness of rattling this time of year…and, I guess, they provide another lesson; sometimes taking a day off from the deer stand for a little fishing might not be such a bad idea!