Sep 1, 2011, 12:14 PM EDT
Here’s your second weekly installment of the infamous Rut Report. Not much is happening, yet, but soon it will be exploding, and now is the time to get ready. Whether you like to tag out early, hunt during the prime seeking stage, the actual rut or post rut, the work you do now will help you tag the buck of your dreams. Our experts are sharing there tips and know-how with you for free, so take advantage of it, I know I do. The best local expert though is yourself, so how’s the scouting going for you all? Please take a minute and share some trail cam photos and your thoughts on how the season will be.
Allen Treadwell, co-host of 100% Real Hunting: With each passing day we are one day closer to that mark on everyone’s calendar, opening day! I am heading this week to the untapped beauty of Alaska to chase monster brown bear, wolf, and maybe have a chance to get my line stretched a time or two by a big ol salmon! What better way to get through the dog days of summer and pass a little time until deer season opens?
This early season can be a tough time; first of all, deer are still in velvet and have not yet became solitary animals like they will be by the end of September. It is a great time of year to get photos and see what the animals are doing on your property, but the only problem is they will most likely be on different agendas as soon as your tag becomes valid. The best piece of advice I can give you for early-season success is to take those photos and scouting you learned the first couple weeks of the season and apply those to this season. The deer should visit the same areas they did early in the season last year. As hard as it is, leave those places the bachelor groups of bucks are hanging out now, and head to those areas where you were seeing mature deer early season last year. The only thing left to do is make some blood trails!
Wade Middleton, host of Yamaha Whitetail Diary: Checked over 3,000 scouting camera photos this past weekend and found decent antler growth on some of the more mature bucks and, as expected, the younger bucks were a bit below what I saw last year. There were two bucks in particular from last year I was hoping to spot and get and early pattern on, however, I didn’t see either one.
The really scary part of it all, though, was that I only saw one fawn out of all the pictures I looked at. Last year we had twins everywhere, but with the dry conditions in that part of southwest Texas, my fears of a bad fawn crop are starting to be confirmed. I do feel, however, that we had a late breeding season last year so I’ll keep up hope that I will spot more fawns out and about soon. But with temps still over 100 in the area I was in, all the action on the scouting cameras was after dark and I didn’t see a deer while rolling around on my ATV. So who knows?
Luke Hartle, Senior Editor, North American Hunter: From a deer’s perspective, very little has changed during the course of the past week. The weather has remained largely constant, although the nights are starting to get gradually cooler. If you’re a whitetail, life is good right now.
But from a hunter’s perspective, things are changing drastically. I’ve been a regular in my local pro shop, Schaffer Archery, since April, and I’m suddenly not alone—people are flocking for pre-season tune-ups like flies to a gut pile. And things are starting to smell a bit differently, too, as the weather becomes milder and the leaves lose some of their emerald luster and gain a hint of yellow. September is in the air!
This is the calm before the storm, and it’s also a great time to enjoy the late-summer sunsets with family and friends while out looking for bachelor groups of bucks entering soybean fields to feed just before dusk.
Keep your nose to the wind and you’ll find ‘em.
Bill Miller, host of North American Hunter TV: Big news regarding the rut for me this week was the addition of another primetime whitetail hunt in early November. I sort of “backed into” this one, but I’ll take them any way I can get them!
North American Hunter TV sponsor Federal Ammunition had the trip all lined up to take their spokesman, Brock Lesnar, on this heart of the deer season hunt in Alberta. But then while taping a prairie dog shoot in North Dakota earlier this month, Lesnar let it be known his plans are to get back in the UFC ring in pursuit of the heavyweight title in the not too distant future. He’s recovered from a second surgery for diverticulitis and is going to devote the fall and winter to training.
When that video went viral on YouTube a couple weeks ago, a few Alberta white-tailed bucks probably slept better for a night or two knowing Lesnar wouldn’t be after them this fall.
Silly Deer! All it took was one phone call from the boys at Federal to one North American Hunter’s Bill Miller and the hunt was back on. While Lesnar will be grinding away in his training facility to put himself back on top in the UFC, I’ll be keeping the seat warm in the tree stand he would have been sitting in during primetime Alberta rut! Life is truly good!
I’ve hunted Alberta before with great success for mule deer (it’s where I took my best mulie to date), but this will be my first crack at the province’s whitetail. I’m really psyched about this trip because I know the kind of monsters that come from that part of Canada . I’ve seen the pictures from North American Hunting Club members who have hunted there, and Lesnar himself took a monster buck in Alberta last fall.
From what I’m told, it will be different than the western or prairie province hunting I’ve done there before, though. We’ll actually be sitting in tree stands rather than glass-and-stalk-style hunting. As you know, I prefer the freedom of the latter, but can muster the fortitude to put up with most anything for a crack at one of those giant bucks.
Like much of the West the last year, Alberta’s mountain country had a huge snowpack that kept the prairies well-watered, in fact, over-watered through the summer. The abundant moisture should have put mature bucks that survived the winter snows and spring flooding in fine shape, but remaining high water is likely to impact travel routines and the patterns that the bucks set up as they go into pre-rut, then the full rut.
Whatever we find, I’m just glad to be Alberta-bound (to steal a lyric from Gordon Lightfoot). Like every other trip to the woods, we’ll adapt our hunting style and methods to what we find the bucks are doing at the time, then take our best shot. And, of course, we’ll capture it on video so you can share in the enjoyment on North American Hunter TV.
Dr. Mickey W. Hellickson, Tecomate Associate Consultant– South Texas
Here in South Texas most of the “deer talk” has been focused on the severe drought now taking place across most of Texas. Just yesterday, I read that the last 12 months have been the driest ever on record!
Although I do not fly my first helicopter-deer survey until September 3rd, I already know that fawn counts will be low across the board due to the lack of rain this summer. In South Texas, helicopter-fawn counts are highly correlated with summer rains. During dry summers, many mothers lack the nutrition necessary to successfully nurse their fawn(s). As a result, many are abandoned within the first few weeks of their birth. Young mothers especially, have a difficult time raising fawns. Typical “fawn-at-heel” counts range from 20 to 40 percent during early fall helicopter surveys that follow dry summers.
During wet summers, nutrition is essentially unlimited resulting in a much better ability for mothers to successfully nurse and rear their fawns. Typical “fawn-at-heel” counts range from 60 to 80 percent during early fall helicopter surveys that follow wet summers.
Deer management pays its highest dividends during drought years like we are experiencing this year. Deer managers who have properly managed their properties will have fawn crops twice as high as the fawn crops counted on unmanaged ranches. Supplemental feeding and successful food plots have huge impacts during dry times, especially if the deer density has been kept in check through an adequate doe harvest.
Despite the drought, most hunters I speak with are still excited about the upcoming deer hunting season… and I count myself as one of those hunters!
David Shashy, Tecomate Pro Staffer -South Florida
Our Sunshine State is not typically known as a hot bed of monster buck rut activity. However, our quality buck status has improved in Florida over recent years thanks to the advent and employment of improved land management techniques and due to the application of quality deer management concepts by our sportsman. And with more, bigger, healthier, and older age class bucks present, we hunters are observing increased rut activity in the field. More selective hunter harvest along with education and discipline practiced by hunters in the field is paying off in Florida. But here is the shocker. In South Florida the rut is on right now and it began as early as July!
While most of those who live the year-round whitetail lifestyle all over the vast Tecomate Whitetail Nation are hooking their John Deere to their Plotmasters and planting their favorite fall/winter Tecomate food plots, Florida hunters are climbing into their stands, bow and arrow in hand, in piney woods, hammocks, and cypress swamps of Gator Country. Deer hunting began here (South Florida only) July 30th, 2011. Yes, that’s right—slap in the middle of hurricane season and the dog days of summer.
To describe Florida`s rut as atypical when compared to other states would be a monumental understatement. The Sunshine State whitetail rut is more of a potluck lottery or mixed grab bag of complexity spanning months in a sauna setting. Erratic, depending on your location in the state could be a suitable description of the Florida whitetail rut in my opinion. The FWC has taken a shot defining this complicated road map based on data collected over an extended period from sportsman and trained staff biologists.
In 2011 the FWC opened our Southern Florida zone to deer enthusiasts for archery hunting on July 30th for good reason. One major reason is rut and the increased deer activity associated with the rut. As of this writing Mr. Lee Taylor, District Wildlife Biologist with the FWC, confirms that at least two does harvested and checked in recently at the Babcock Wildlife Management Area in Lee County Florida were already bred. Examination and back dating of the fetus taken from both does suggests that breeding took place in late July or early August. In addition a mature 150 lb 8 pt and a nice 7 pt point were also taken this past weekend at the same WMA. Unreal! Only in the Sunshine State!
No doubt many Florida whitetail enthusiasts will endure the 100+ degree temperatures and the miserable humidity this July and August. Albeit there may be a shortage of thermo-cells to go around. The mosquitoes, gnats, heat, humidity, and cottonmouths along with the rutting whitetails promise to add excitement in the field for the sportsman who dare endure these adverse elements. But endure they certainly will. Whitetail aficionados were present in numbers at daylight the first morning of this record early-season Florida opener. And some certainly met with success because the rut is on. So don`t be surprised to see a buck in South Florida with his nose pressed to ground in pursuit of a hot doe while his rack is yet in velvet. Is that strange or what?
Florida hunters, put on your shorts and t-shirts, grab your thermo-cells, bows and arrows, and soon your rifles. Don`t forget your Code Blue cover scent—you’ll need it. You are going to sweat. But you will be hunting whitetail bucks in the rut while others in our country are only toiling in the field, preparing, and dreaming impatiently in anticipation of their own season opener, still months away!
Good Hunting! Be safe!
Brett Miller, Online Hunting Editor at NBCSports.com: This past week I haven’t had a chance to see many deer as Hurricane Irene blew through over the weekend, and then I moved earlier this week. I did get a chance Sunday, the day after the storm, to see some deer over by my in-law’s house. The deer seem to be hitting the same fields still, and no worse for wear after the hurricane. The bucks are still in soft antler and still running in bachelor herds.
I received a great email from one of the Tecomate guru’s that broke out the Florida Rut, wow this is really in-depth, take a look at it; Florida Rut Forecast.
If you’re going crazy this time of year, sure of your scouting and have your treestands in place, then get ready for after you take that monster down. Have you picked out where that mount is going? Have you talked to your taxidermist yet to see how they want the deer brought in? How about your deer processor? Are they still in business, did their costs go up or will they this year? If you process game yourself are you ready for that? Get your knives sharpened, your grinder cleaned, and make sure you have the supplies you need now.
I know a lot of you are ready to hit the woods, but what about after the woods, when the animal is down? This is just as important as getting ready for the hunt. Good luck, be safe and come back next week for more tips and updates!