Overall activity status: Deer are moving pretty well right now, though a recent series of rainstorms have affected the timing of that activity. Heavy rains across the region have been a boon to farmers, but slightly frustrating for hunters wanting to catch a last glimpse or two of the bucks they’ve been watching all summer; deer mind feeding in a light rain, but the downpours and heavy wind we’ve experienced keep bucks on their bellies.
Fighting: No reports of sparring, or bucks cracking antlers, yet. Velvet shed is just now beginning. Several bowhunters I know are in North Dakota right now, hoping for a crack at a velvet buck; they’re the only people I know praying for the fuzzy stuff to not peel off of buck racks!
Rub making: Same as above. The first reports of bucks in hard-antler are drifting in, and the first rubs of the season are soon to follow.
Scrape making: Very little to report here, though veteran Minnesota bowhunter Billy Jerowski did capture several trail cam photos of bucks (like the one pictured above) hitting mock scrapes he’d constructed several weeks ago. It’s easy to forget that bucks (indeed, all deer) will visit scrapes throughout the year, so it’s never too early to make them.
Chasing: Nothing to report
Daytime movement: Here again, a range of reports. Northern Wisconsin bowhunter Tom VanDoorn reports that red oaks are carrying a bumper crop of acorns right now, and white oaks are dropping nuts steadily. This first flush of hard mast gets deer on their feet throughout the day…but seeing deer is another matter. Hunters in farm country used to watching bucks hit ag fields in daylight could be very frustrated right now; the action is taking place in the oaks.
Estrous signs: None to report.
X-Factor: With archery seasons set to open soon in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, hunters need to keep track of ever-changing food sources. Soybean fields are starting to yellow, making them less attractive to bucks; focus on still-green patches in the beans, typically found in low-lying or shaded areas. And, of course, scout and monitor oak stands. The annual acorn drop can dictate feeding (and breeding) behavior for the rest of the season. Find a good oak stand, it could be a go-to spot for many weeks.