Bestul: The Switch is Flipping

Rut Reporter Scott Bestul is a Field & Stream’s Whitetails columnist and writes for the website’s Whitetail365 blog. The Minnesotan … Continued

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.

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What a difference five days can make. That’s the general sentiment I’m getting from my contacts around the region this week. After a prolonged spell of hot/dry weather, the last five days have seen day time highs in the 50’s, cool northwest winds and cold nights. And with the swing of the weather pendulum, whitetails have become more active and visible to hunters. As noted in my last post, scraping and rubbing have really picked up, and bowhunters in the region should see stellar movement in the days ahead.

No one knows this better than my father, still bowhunting hard and strong at 81 years. Dad settled in to a stand near his home yesterday afternoon, and didn’t have long to wait for action. The adjoining property is a huge cornfield that had just been harvested, and 90 minutes before dark the first deer were on the field. Dad watched the feeding show–comprised of does and fawns–for a half-hour, when suddenly a nice buck appeared to feed and pester does.

The field is in full view of a busy highway when something (probably a vehicle whose driver stopped to gawk) spooked the entire tribe, and suddenly the deer were heading directly for dad’s stand in the timber! The buck eventually gave dad a 10-yard shot, but his arrow flew over the buck’s back! Naturally dad was bummed, but with deer activity this good, I’m convinced he’ll have another opportunity.

That hunt is a classic example of this time period; does feeding heavily on recently-harvested crop fields, bucks visiting the area to feed and badger does, and hunters enjoying the action of this exciting scenario. Things will only get better in the days to come, as bucks feel the push of testosterone, yet stay in their home ranges to seek that first estrous doe.

Look for increased scraping and rubbing near doe feeding areas, and bucks willing to move later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon. The Wisconsin hunter pictured above capitalized on that surge of activity on a morning hunt this week, and bagged a fine mature buck that sported a gorgeous rack. I expect my inbox to fill with more and more of these photos in the days ahead!