It’s perfectly normal to be excited as deer seasons knock on our door. But for many reasons, excitement about this fall’s hunt seems particularly notable. As I read through the reports compiled by our Rut Reporters, I sensed a thread running through them all that points to a stellar season ahead.

Some of that excitement is easily understandable: After two seasons of widespread, and often-brutal, outbreaks of EHD, most regions seem to have dodged that bullet this year. While it will take herds a couple of seasons to fully recover from the devastating impacts of the summers of 2012 and 2013, at least this summer was a needed reprieve…and offered hope that the situation might improve.

Another tangible plus for 2014 is simpler, yet every bit as important; much-needed rain has been the norm across much of the country, but particularly to regions affected by drought the last two years. Abundant rainfall has boosted agricultural crops and aided natural forage (particularly mast) that is so critical to deer. This means not only fatter and healthier animals, but more fawns and bucks with bigger antlers. From Brandon Ray’s South Central region, across Steven Hill’s Great Plains and into Will Brantley’s Mid South zone, rainfall has given whitetail hunters much reason to be hopeful.

Scanning the weekly reports also reminded me of the expertise of our reporters. This is the place where serious whitetail nuts gather to learn what deer are doing, but also how to hunt and scout for them. Mike Bleech in the Northeast can tell us exactly how and where to set up a trail camera. The South’s Eric Bruce can clue us in to the wildly variable breeding peaks in his region alone, and Jeff Holmes can remind us that good whitetail hunting in the West can hinge on quality wintering habitat for deer. I learn something every week I scan the rut reports, and I encourage you to do the same.

We also encourage and welcome your input on this site. Use the comments section to respond to a reporter’s observations and make some of your own. We value your expertise–and feed off your excitement as you report your experiences from the field. The stage is set for a wonderful 2014 deer season…let’s get after it!