Recent Rains Will Benefit Deer Food Sources and Reduce EHD Threat

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After a long, droughty summer, rain has hit the region. This is a very good thing on a couple of levels. At the most basic, the flush of water will energize natural food sources--mainly grasses and forbs, but also hay fields--that deer will use this fall.

While the rain may be too late to save many mast crops for this year, if we continue to get more precipitation, trees and bushes will definitely go into the winter in better shape. And anyone who's planted late summer/early fall food plots in the last few weeks (I'm in this number) is doing a little celebratory dance right now.

Rains also have the potential to help areas stricken by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease this summer. While it's obviously not bringing any dead deer back, the rain could flush out creeks, ponds, and water sources hosting the biting midges that carry EHD and prevent further deaths. Sadly, the recent storms continue to avoid many areas that have struggled mightily this summer. One of my sources in central Illinois reports that recent storms have found their way to counties north, south and west of his, but have avoided his immediate area.

While archery seasons have opened in North Dakota and other states to our west, most bowhunters in the North Central are busily preparing for upcoming seasons; Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota all open in less than two weeks. Some great trail cam pics have found their way to my inbox recently, and my cameras picked up this pretty 10-point recently. While this buck was visiting a traditional mineral lick, I expect to see less and less activity at such sites. I plan on moving my cameras to preferred early-season food sources such as apple trees and alfalfa, in the coming days.

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.