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.
First off, congrats to Rut Reporter Brandon Ray on the awesome 150-class whitetail he tagged. Brandon is an accomplished bowhunter. He proved his skill when he slipped up on, and eventually arrowed, a true trophy buck. As Brandon notes in his report, success often comes when we are least expecting it, and part of being a good deer hunter is paying attention to your surroundings and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Great job Brandon!
Elsewhere, rut activity seems to be gradually picking up, with fresh scrapes and rubs appearing with regularity. However, the main event seems to be on the horizon. Eric Bruce says southern region hunters have weeks to wait for serious breeding behavior. Bruce also notes that firearms seasons have opened in many areas, which can place more hunters in the woods. Many people wonder how human pressure affects the rut, and my go-to answer is always, “deer are going to breed no matter what, but they may shift to areas where they get less interruption.” If hunting pressure is a factor in your area, look for more rubs, scrapes, and bucks close to dense cover or tough-to-access areas.
Some other standout observations center around the all-important issue of food. In the Plains region, David Draper details how the ag harvest can affect not only what deer eat, but where they live. In regions where trees are scarce, crops like corn and sunflowers become cover for deer. When that cover is removed, hunters have to adjust to stay in the action. Will Brantley made an excellent observation about understanding farming practices; when farmers remove soybeans in his region, they immediately plant winter wheat. This green food source is highly attractive to deer this time of year, and I’ve had tremendous success hunting winter wheat fields when I can find them. The does know where they are, and the bucks will never be far behind!
Finally, northeast reporter Mike Bleech answers several reader questions about the importance of keeping track of food sources. If you haven’t read Mike’s responses to these readers, click on his link and take in some spot-on observations about deer behavior around food sources in that area.
Next week will be our first round of reports from that glorious month of November!