What Happened In The Woods Last Week

It's always fun to get deeper into the season, as more states open up to hunters and success (and near-success) reports shed further light into deer behavior and motivate us all. This week contained some great updates from our reporters.

West reporter Jeff Holmes nailed another great interview with Montana Whitetails owner Keith Miller, whose clients took some nice bucks over the week. Miller notes several keys to success that we should all keep in mind; choose stand sites based primarily on wind direction, keep hunting regardless of less-than ideal conditions (moon, temp, etc) and set up as close to buck bedding areas as conditions allow. Miller's client Ryan Moore shot a great buck because Miller minded these basic tenets, and Moore enjoyed a stellar hunt where he observed not just the buck he shot, but two others.

Mike Bleech continues to deliver insightful reports from the Northeast. Mike's list of contacts always bring up interesting observations, such as the fact that daylight deer activity appears to spike just prior to, and immediately following, a full moon. I've observed this myself, and some hunters I trust absolutely rely on this tenet. Bleech also notes that he's seeing deer feeding in farm fields, even though there's an excellent acorn crop. This is an excellent observation, and a reminder that whitetails are never married to one food source and much prefer a salad-bar approach to dining, especially in the early season.

Will Brantley's Mid-South report included a great success story about Mark Williams' gorgeous Kentucky 8-point. I read this story with great interest, since Mark knew the buck well and had actually passed a shot opportunity at it the evening before, thanks to dim light. This shows tremendous discipline (and a fine sense of ethics) on his part, as well as an obvious understanding of whitetail behavior and hunting skill; it's very easy to bump a buck and throw him off his pattern after a close encounter like this, but Mark was able to keep in the game and set up a second opportunity.

I always enjoy Eric Bruce's reports from the South, especially since Eric is a successful bowhunter who lives what he writes about. Eric had a great two-whitetail Georgia opener, tagging a buck and a doe on his birthday. His tale of his bow buck illustrates an understanding of how to call whitetails. Eric encountered a buck that was not going to pass within bow range, but through patient, persistent calling he lured the buck in with a series of soft grunts. Though the buck didn't respond dramatically and instantly, Eric knew the buck had heard him and eventually the deer wandered in. I call this "getting in a buck's head", and it shows an ability to read a buck's response to calling and a willingness to keep pushing gently pushing his buttons and working on his curiousity. Great job, Eric!

Finally, Great Plains reporter Draper noted that his sources are starting to see bucks that had largely been no-shows on trail cameras all summer. This is an excellent observation and one we all need to pay attention to; with the breakup of bachelor groups, there is always a shifting of home range and core areas happening in the whitetail world. Bucks suddenly appear that, just days before, were not on our radar…Which makes it critically important to keep scouting and running trail cameras throughout the season.