National Report: The All-Important Food Factor

Rut Reporter Scott Bestul is a Field & Stream’s Whitetails columnist and writes for the website’s Whitetail365 blog. The Minnesotan … Continued

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.

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Weather changes seem to be a common theme in rut reports from across the country this week. Brandon Ray reports that much-needed rains have finally visited Texas. While this moisture has arrived too late to overcome a very tough year for fawn production, it will give a boost to fall food sources. Ray notes that winter wheat plantings will likely do well in the weeks to come, and hunting efforts focused near those fields should produce.

We talk about food a lot in this space, and mid-South reporter Will Brantley proved why when he shot a great public land doe this week. Congrats to Will on reading the sign, placing this stand, and making a good shot on that hunt. Acorns, always a whitetail favorite, were a key in Will’s success. This hard-to-beat strategy can be successful in almost any region where deer have access to oak forests.

The giant buck shown here, shot in Iowa just this week, proves that knowing good food sources and hunting hard can pay huge dividends. I’ll post more information about this Midwest monster next week.

Our southern region reporter Eric Bruce wrote a great post about buck reaction to grunt calls, including a success story from a bowhunter in the region. Many hunters are shy about using calls and rattling right now, believing such communication is largely “a rut thing.” They’re wrong. While calling and rattling can certainly be the most effective during the rut, whitetails are constantly communicating with each other (and highly curious) no matter the season. That behavior can best be exploited with calling, and I’m never without calls and rattling horns any time I’m deer hunting.

Though this period can often be frustrating (I’ve been skunked on my last two bowhunts in Minnesota), the deer are obviously still there and often moving. And the only way to kill one is to keep after it. We’re getting closer and closer to the rut, and the more information we gather now– which is best done by hunting and scouting– the better our hunting will be when that magic time comes!