We’ve barely kick-started our Rut Reporters coverage, and we already have a highlight reel! Major congratulations to Michelle Brantley–wife of our Mid-South reporter, Will–and her gorgeous velvet buck from Kentucky! Michelle not only pulled off a successful hunt for a buck the Brantley’s knew from trail cameras, she a) did it in the rain AND b) filmed herself! Excellent job, Michelle, and trust me, you’ve raised the bar high for the rest of the Rut Reporting team (especially your hubby, but I’ll leave that alone).

With more states opening their archery seasons (three alone in my North Central region) this weekend, I fully expect to see harvest photos from some outstanding bucks in this space in the weeks to come. Early archery season is, in my opinion, one of the top times to kill a truly big whitetail; bucks typically remain in late-summer patterns (which makes them more predictable) and are relatively unpressured. That scenario is a bowhunter’s dream… and as Great Plains reporter David Draper notes this week, even firearms hunters can get in on the action; Kansas’ early muzzleloader hunt is soon to open, and the Sunflower State always produces some giant bucks during that season.

Two other important observations were mentioned by our reporting crew; Rich Landers (West) and Eric Bruce (South) both noted the effects of heat on deer movement, and Eric noted the moon phase could be affecting daylight whitetail movement. Both of these factors can significantly affect our hunting success, and I’d urge you to start–if you don’t already–keeping a journal. If you note nothing more than the weather, temperature, moon phase/position and the number of deer you see, you’ll be taking a huge step toward understanding whitetail behavior in your hunting area. Better yet, a journal will help you recall all those special memories that pile up in the course of a season. And when you get to be my age, you need all the help remembering that you can get!