Looking Back—and Looking Ahead

As we wind down our rut reporting season*, I was struck once again by what a thorough job our reporters did this fall, and some of the great information they relayed in over three months of weekly reporting. I never have to read many reports before I find something that really catches my attention: an observation or nugget of information that teaches me something about deer and hunting them.

I found another example in this week's South Central report from Brandon Ray. Brandon's area consists largely of Texas and Oklahoma; states where it's legal to feed deer and hunt over bait. Naturally, shelled corn is a popular choice among those who feed and bait deer, yet Brandon noted several times over the fall (including this week) that hunters were seeing fewer deer at the feeders, and the reason was…acorns. Many Midwestern hunters have seen a good acorn crop lure whitetails straight away from food plots and farm fields. But to know that acorns can trump shelled corn coming from a feeder was news to me, and I'm glad I heard it here first.

Just a few years back I decided to set a simple goal for myself as a deer hunter: Learn one important take-away lesson from the just-ended hunting season that can be applied to next year's hunt. For example, the lesson from the past fall was that when you find a hot stand or a great area, keep hunting it even if you shoot a buck there. In the past, I'd typically "rest" a stand after killing a deer from the spot, but I'm convinced that's largely unnecessary and, in some cases, counterproductive. Deer are using a spot for a reason, so when we discover the spot, we need to capitalize on the opportunity.

I'm hoping that reading this fall's rut reports will help you in a similar fashion. So I urge you to take a few minutes to scroll back through the rut reports for your region, and look for an important takeaway lesson from the fall. If you've got the time, read through all the reports, regardless of region. There's some great reporting included in all those pages, and enough whitetail wisdom to get you thinking about next fall's hunt.

* Because of the late rut in some southern states, twice-weekly Rut Reports for the South and South Central regions will be posted through the week of January 13.--The Editors