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.
Overall Activity Status:** The weather was damp and cool early in the week in western Kentucky, and that seemed to have deer– bucks included– on their feet a little earlier than usual in the evenings. Since Tuesday it’s been sunny and warmer, and while movement is still pretty good, most of it has been right at dark. Farther east, Wayne County, North Carolina hunter Jerimiah Waddell reports that rainy weather in his area the past three days has had deer on their feet at all hours of the day.
Fighting: I haven’t seen anything serious yet, but I have noticed bachelor groups of bucks beginning to posture and spar with one another.
Rub making:** I found my first rub line of the year this week, but haven’t seen much outside of that. Jerimiah Waddell says he has yet to find that first rub or scrape in North Carolina.
Scrape making: Nothing yet.
Chasing: Nothing yet.
Daytime movement: Deer are still on their late-summer feeding patterns, and thus, most of the activity I’ve seen has been limited to the late evenings on field edges. But as corn is being picked, beans are yellowing, and a few acorns are falling, so expect those patterns to change by the day.
Estrous signs: Nothing yet.
X Factor:** So far we’ve had a pretty routine early season with nicer-than-normal weather. The deer have been predictable, and the hunting’s been good. But fall is here, the velvet is gone, and food sources are changing. I expect field-edge buck sightings– at least big buck sightings– to dwindle significantly in the coming days. The good news is, at least from a hunter’s perspective, that the mast crop, especially the white oak crop, is pretty spotty this year in much of the Mid-South. That makes hunting food plots and crop fields much more productive, and it makes finding one special oak that is dropping acorns a whitetail gold mine.
The rut will get here, but if my past early October hunting history is any indication, we’ll have a two or three week lull in activity to endure first. It’s a good time to try to kill a few does.