Recent Rut Report posts offer some fascinating insights into the minds and tactics of effective, successful, deer hunters. Though the best deer hunting is still weeks away, hunters are still tagging some awesome bucks and, perhaps more impressive, most of these kills are the result of long-term scouting and working an effective game plan.

Take, for example, a pair of hunters we learned about this week: Ty Pottenger in the West, and Kerry B. Wix in the Mid-South.

Both hunters had maintained long-term recon on a target buck (extremely difficult as bucks change from summer to early-fall patterns) by scouting, observation, and trail cameras. Then, through sheer patience and persistence, both managed to tag their target deer. Wix’s harvest was particularly impressive because he had chances to set up on his trophy 9-point on several occasions, yet refused because the wind direction wasn’t correct. It takes tremendous discipline to do this—especially when you’re crunched for hunting time—but Wix proved that one hunt under ideal conditions can be far more productive than an half-dozen so-so attempts.

The same approach is obviously true of Ronnie Parsons, a wildly successful Texan profiled by Brandon Ray often in this space. Parsons shot his 40th P&Y class buck this fall and, as Brandon points out, has enjoyed such success because he never quits working hard, pays attention detail, and waits for a perfect shot.

In other reports, we learn (yet again) that staying current with food sources is the key to effective hunting at this phase of the season. South reporter Eric Bruce detailed yet another successful hunter—John Kerr—who stayed up on prime feeding areas, hunted smart, and filled his tag with a beautiful buck. Hunters who emulate Kerr in the weeks ahead have a much better chance of emulating his success.

The weather continues to be a major player at this phase of the season. West reporter Holmes noted the unusually cool nights are driving mountain bucks to lower elevations and goading them into “active” status. Major cool fronts swept many areas in the nation this week, which should have a similar effect on deer activity and hunter success. Great Plains reporter Hill detailed the hunt for a giant Kansas buck that fell to Hunter Giffin’s muzzleloader this week.

That buck was on his feet as a thunderstorm approached, and I’m convinced the timing of those two events was no coincidence. Successful hunters mind the wind and the weather and take to field when those critical factors are in their favor.