One of the most fascinating aspects of compiling the national roundup each week is seeing how all the little factors that influence rut activity are lining up in different regions. Here in the north central region, a strong cold front has catapulted bucks into the seeking phase. My sources reported excellent buck activity over the weekend, and the action should build steadily.

In the Great Plains, however, variable weather patterns have hunters reporting a mixed bag of deer behavior, according to David Draper. Some guys are still seeing pods of bachelored-up bucks, while others are watching bucks badger does. This is a common phenomenon as we approach the onset of breeding season, especially when the weather is acting funky. Local temperature, wind, and precipitation all influence just how much deer activity we get to witness. As I’ve noted before, it’s critical to pay attention to forecasts and plan your hunting efforts accordingly if possible. Hunters in the Plains should see some stellar action when these systems settle down and cool, high-pressure conditions prevail.

Elsewhere, food sources are changing as the pre-rut unfolds. Brandon Ray’s South Central report, for example, tells us that Texas hunters are seeing spotty action near corn feeders. Why? Recent rains have brought a flush of moisture to the native vegetation that is a favorite on the whitetail menu. This is a common pre-rut pattern in much of the country, as deer turn up their noses (at least for a time) at easy foods–like plots, ag crops, and bait–to dine on the natural stuff. You can waste time bemoaning this maddening behavior, or you can make it a point to learn as many food sources as possible and keep tabs on when and where deer are using them.

This remains important in areas where the rut is beginning to kick in, too. Bucks may be all about does come breeding time, but the main place they find does is where does eat. Reports (and great photos) of bucks killed in and around food sources by Eric Bruce and Jeff Holmes drive this point home in this week’s reports. So weather your bucks are still hanging out with their buds or already starting to badger does, stay on the best food and you’ll be poised for success when deer movement is at its highest.