Rut Reporter Will Brantley of Murray, Kentucky, knows the region well. He spends 40 to 50 days each season in the Mid-South whitetail woods. Brantley shot his first deer at age 10 with a sidelock muzzleloader. States covered: KY, TN, WV, VA, NC.


What a difference a week makes. In my last post, I mentioned Kentucky’s early two-day muzzleloader season, and how painfully slow the deer activity in this area had been. I’ve been out of town for the past week, but a wicked cold front passed through the Mid-South the day I left. Daytime highs fell from the mid-80s to the high-50s, and frost-covered fields were apparently the norm several mornings this week. Michelle called me Thursday night, after the front passed and things stabilized, and reported seeing more than 50 deer during the course of her 30-minute drive to work.

Needless to say, I was ready to get home and hunt. Of course, weather changes like this sometimes bring other pleasantries with them–like the flu and colds. Instead of climbing into a tree before daylight yesterday, I found myself asleep on the couch until noon or later, battling a fever and chills. Finally, by 2 p.m., I’d had enough. I figured if I was going to just sit there anyway, I might as well be in a stand.

I hunted a lock-on over a beanfield while Michelle went up a nearby tree in her climber. This field was picked three weeks ago, and the field has been oversown with winter wheat. Though the little green shoots are just beginning to poke through the dirt, the field, for the most part, looks like the surface of Mars at the moment. I wasn’t expecting to see much.

The buck surprised me at 4:48. I had my phone in hand, checking the time, when I looked up and saw him crossing behind a big cedar tree on the field edge, no more than 30 yards away. My first thoughts were, “past the ears, long tines, maybe a shooter, and man, he’s out early.” Unfortunately for me, the buck disappeared into a thicket. I could hear him walking, knew he was in bow range, but never saw him again. A few minutes later, Michelle texted me to say a spike had just cruised under her stand. She did manage to capture this video of him.

Admittedly, those were the only two deer we saw yesterday. But, they were both bucks, traveling early in the day, seemingly with a purpose. The buck that passed by me was a decent deer, too. It seems this cold front has been right on time–and on that note, I’m headed to the woods. Fever or not.