This morning was cold, in the low 30s with clear skies and a heavy frost, and I’d barely settled into my stand when I heard the sounds of deer crashing across a creek 300 yards the other side of a big green field. Two or three does with a gang of two or three (and possibly more) young bucks burst into sight across the field. The young bucks chased the does until they were sufficiently scattered, then stood around in the field long enough to catch their breath and move on. Later, a big 12-pointer crossed through the same area of the field, nose down. I wish I could’ve gotten a shot at him.

It’s clear that right now is the time to be in the woods.

My pal Kasidy Manhart, an Idaho native and avid elk hunter, has spent the past week hunting whitetails and fall turkeys with me here in the Mid-South. Kasidy had never taken a whitetail or turkey prior to this trip, but he wrapped things up in grand fashion, arrowing his first whitetail, a button buck, yesterday evening, followed up by a fat forkhorn this morning. He shot a jake Tuesday afternoon. Though he won’t be going home with a set of Pope and Young antlers, he will have a cooler of meat so heavy it’ll be slapped with oversize baggage fees at the airport. I’d call that a pretty good trip.

Modern firearm season opens next weekend in Kentucky, and muzzleloader season opens this weekend down in Tennessee. If you haven’t put in for vacation time yet, do it now. The chase phase of the rut is the most exciting part of it. While it’s just now cranking up, it won’t last for long.