Bestul: Weather Throws a Curveball at Rut

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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For the most part, buck activity has been increasing in the region, with rub and scrape making on the rise and bucks traveling more freely. But there's a short-term warm front in the last few days, and that seems to have squelched the wanderings of mature bucks in some areas.

We talk a lot about weather changes in this space, especially how a sudden cool front can goad bucks into movement. Well when that trend reverses, the deer activity can also nosedive. The last couple days have seen afternoon temps nudging 70, even in the northern reaches of this region. Coupled with higher humidity these balmy readings have suppressed whitetail activity, especially on evening hunts, and contacts in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin have shared similar observations. Fortunately, a cold front is headed our way later in the week, and I'm predicting another round of excellent buck sightings to accompany morning temps below freezing.

Minnesota bowhunter Andy Pierce slipped a tag on this gorgeous B&C-class ten point a few days back (before the warmup, not coincidentally), grunting, rattling and doe-bleating the buck into bow range. In addition to simply being an awesome trophy, the buck proved that this stage of the pre-rut is a stellar time to call to deer. Bucks are actively seeking contact with other deer right now, and often a combination of calls can fool a buck into believing he's missing a party if he doesn't investigate the sounds. Congrats to Andy on a great October bow kill!