Late September Means Transition Time

All but a few states have some form of deer season open right now, and a careful read of reports from around the country can be summed up pretty simply: it's transition time. I've long felt that successful whitetail hunters are the ones who can adapt to the ever-shifting needs and moods of the deer they pursue, and this phase of the season justifies that belief.

For an extreme example, check out Eric Bruce's report that tells us that deer in south Florida are not only rutting right now…They've been at it for weeks! I found this information not only fascinating, but proof that whitetails are one of the most dynamic and fascinating species in our country.

Elsewhere, changes in whitetail behavior are more subtle, but no less important. Our West region reporter Rich Landers did a great job of surveying the region's guides and outfitters, who told him they've seen hard-antlered young bucks sparring, still in small bachelor groups. Older bucks have shown little interest in such shenanigans, and are acting more reclusive and light-shy. This is typical behavior this time of year, as bachelor groups break up and older bucks gravitate to prime habitats and core areas.

Food is another example of an ever-changing aspect in the lives of deer. Mid-South reporter Will Brantley noted that agricultural crops like soybeans are yellowing, making them less desirable to deer until they're fully mature (the beans, that is). And the annual acorn drop is always something to consider, as whitetails often abandon summer food sources to gorge on acorns.

Our Plains reporter David Draper noted two car-killed deer in his area, and surmised that changing food sources might be the cause of deer traveling to other areas. Sometimes these shifts in range are deadly to whitetails.

Finally, South-central reporter Brandon Ray highlighted a great harvest of a velvet buck, one of five members of a bachelor group. The hunter capitalized on his knowledge of these deer and set himself up for a close-range bow harvest. Hunters across the nation can enjoy similar success, providing they take the time to keep up with the changes in deer behavior during this time of transition.