Last Friday was my prediction for the Best Day of the Rut this year, and I enjoyed a great hunt, especially on my evening sit near a sheltered food plot. I had near-constant deer action, with five does and a pair of 2 ½- year-old bucks near me for the better part of 30 minutes. Neither buck tripped my trigger, but they were gorgeous 8-points and exciting to watch.

My friend Mark Stimets, a Minnesota bowhunter who owns a farm in neighboring Iowa, reported a similar and stellar weekend hunt. On Friday he passed up shots on a couple of different bucks and saw solid rutting activity. On Saturday morning a pair of mature bucks raced in to the sound of his rattling antlers. The first buck to reach him was a solid but thin-antlered 10-point. Mark was tempted until he saw the second buck, the heavy antlered and huge-bodied 8-point pictured above. Mark made good on the 10-yard shot, and the buck walked only 10 more yards before falling. Rut hunts don’t get much more exciting than that!

Hunters across the region are reporting excellent action as well. I’m currently filing this report from West Baden Springs, Indiana; home of BBT Outfitters.

Owner Ben Reynolds reports that 2 ½- and 3 ½ -year-old bucks are moving widely and aggressively pushing does at fields and food plots. “I expect the older, more mature deer—4- and 5-year-old bucks we’ve watched all summer and fall—will be really moving well in the days ahead.” I’m anxious to get in a stand and see if Ben’s predictions come true. Even if I don’t tag a buck, I know I’ll enjoy this hunt, as this is some of the prettiest deer habitat I’ve seen in the Midwest.

Elsewhere in the region, hunters are reporting a mix of activity. An Illinois contact said that the biggest bucks were already locking down with does, but would be active again in the days ahead. Meanwhile, rut activity is just ramping up across the border in Missouri, where hunters report good-to-excellent action among bucks across all age classes. Both states are known for their excellent mature buck population, and I expect hunters watching travel corridors and secluded food sources—and who are willing to use grunt tubes and rattling antlers—will see excellent action in the days ahead.