Rut-Report, Field and Stream Rut Reporters, Whitetails, Bow Season, Scouting, Scott Bestul

Finally. The annual bowhunt has begun, or is soon to start, across much of the region. Wisconsin opened this past weekend; Michigan and Missouri will have had their openers by the time this report goes up; and Minnesota bowhunters will go afield this Saturday. Our friends in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana will have to wait a few more weeks, as those states have early October openers.

With my state’s first hunt just a few days away, I’m in my usual state of wondering this time of year—wondering where I’m going to hunt and what buck I’ll be looking for. Ultimately, I think the best solution is to go with the absolute freshest intel.

One potential answer just popped up a few days ago. If you follow the Whitetail 365 blog, you know I’ve been following a main-frame 10-point I’ve named “Dave Hurteau Jr.” (long story) that I first got photos of last fall. I had a few more pics of DH Jr. this summer, but for the last month or so he has vanished. Given the shifts in home range and territory that can occur this time of year, I was getting a little worried that I wouldn’t see him again. That all changed when he stepped in one of my trail cams this past weekend, and that camera was located less than 100 yards from where I got the first picture of him last fall.

DH Jr. and a couple of other big bucks I’ve been lucky enough to follow for multiple seasons have convinced me that once a mature buck finds a fall core area where he feels safe and where his food and bedding needs are met, he’s probably going to be in the same place from one autumn to the next. And now that I know DH Jr. is back, there’s a good chance I’ll be after him on Saturday.

Another big deal right now is changing food sources, as I’ve noted in recent reports. I was reminded of this just yesterday when the first combine of the year rolled down the road. My neighbors planted an early-maturing variety of soybeans, which were ripe for harvest this week. The combine made short work of the 70-acre field, and in my experience, a freshly picked bean field is a whitetail magnet. I plan to glass this field over the next couple of evenings and possibly concoct an opening-day game plan based on that.

It’s funny. Most of us scout in the spring and then spend much of the summer watching deer and cataloging trail-cam photos. But because things can shift so quickly, when it comes down to actually sticking a nice buck, the best information is the most recent information. If your season just started or is about to start and you don’t have any hot intel, go get it now.