Bestul: Why Weather Watchers Win

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.

As noted in this blog, and as reported by our reporters in other regions, tagging a buck now often hinges on finding his food source. Or, make that food "sources." That's what my good friend and neighbor Dave Olson did the other day, when he tagged this gorgeous Minnesota ten point. Dave was manning a ladder stand over one of his food plots when this handsome trophy walked in, 45 minutes before dusk. Dave made a great shot on the buck and I helped him find it the next day.

But here's the kicker: that's the same buck in the accompanying trail cam photo, which was taken two weeks earlier on a farm nearly ¾ of a mile away. In the photo, the buck is working a small stand of white oaks that have been dropping acorns for two weeks. It's not uncommon for acorns to make deer obsessive for a stretch, ignoring other prime food sources as they focus feeding and activity to a relatively small area. It can make for some tough hunting if you're not hanging in a white oak during such a period.

But Kicker Two (the Acorn Corollary) is this: eventually deer will either a) eat themselves out of acorns or b) get sick of them and look for something else. Think of putting a bag of chips in front of your kids and you'll know how this works. The key to success (with deer, of course) is to stay focused and keep hunting, knowing that even if you don't command a white oak stand, other nearby foods will eventually suck in your buck. And, finally, pay close attention to the weather, especially significant changes. The evening Dave shot his buck was cool, partly sunny, and relatively calm. More importantly, these conditions followed 2-1/2 days of humidity and high winds. Any time such a front blows through and is followed by high pressure and light wind, it's a perfect time to be in the woods.

Bow seasons are now open in most of the region, with perennial hotspots like Iowa and Illinois opening (finally!) in a matter of days. Keep an eye on food sources, pay attention to weather patterns, and keep on hunting...the reward could be a buck like Dave's!