Sep 22, 2011, 10:20 AM EDT
Wow, we’re five weeks into this already and the good stuff really hasn’t started yet! What are you all seeing in your area? This morning on my way to the concrete jungle I saw a nice-sized doe in a field, so I stopped to watch her. Something about her just didn’t look right and I couldn’t figure it out at first. Then another doe walked out and it hit me. The first doe’s white “under belly” came almost half-way around her sides. She was showing signs of piebald-ism. I’m seeing more and more of this over the past few years, and I don’t believe it’s because I’m spending more time in the outdoors. I think it’s because I’m seeing more deer in suburban areas that aren’t hunted much if at all and are becoming genetically challenged. Has anyone else noticed this? Well, enough about does, let’s talk about bucks and their rutting action across the country.
Allen Treadwell, co-host of 100% Real Hunting-Kansas:
Well y’all, the day I’ve been waiting for since the season went out last year has finally arrived! Kanas early muzzleloader season opened on Monday of this week! I am hunting in northwest Kansas with Jeff’s Guide Service and the weather could not be any better! Cool temps, light winds, and clear skies—perfect for deer activity! We have lucked out this year and got a really good moon phase for the two-week season. Early scouting and the first days of season have shown several deer on their feet, even some mature deer that in most places would be an absolute shooter, but Kansas is still Kansas and with the two-week season, a fella can afford to be somewhat picky early on! Hope everyone else is having great luck and seeing deer on their feet! Hopefully later this week I will be able to put the Outdoor Edge knives to use and next week’s Rut Report comes with some photos attached! If y’all will look me up on Facebook and post pics of your kills to my wall and tell me a hunting story, that would be awesome!
Wade Middleton, host of Yamaha Whitetail Diary:
I spent most of the weekend on my main lease near Del Rio, Texas and saw plenty of good deer moving around, which was exciting despite the dry conditions. Of course, we’re still months from the rut in the area I was in, but it was good to see all the action. In less than three hours I was able to count 14 bucks with three shooters. I was off about 400 yards away studying the area with a spotting scope as they were passing under a set of ladder stands or near them that we’d put up about a month ago. Several of the bucks were still in velvet which always gets me excited for some reason, as I said last week.
On another note we also saw a lot of rain in many areas of the state this past weekend which bodes well for those prepping for their winter food plots, which are going to be so key in helping to sustain the deer populations this year. However, in most cases, I fear it’s a bit too late for many of our deer, as I’ve been finding one or two dead deer most every trip out in some areas. The picture showing here was a younger buck probably 3 years old that I’d seen on a scouting camera about a month ago and in that picture I could see bones then. I’m guessing that he’d only been dead for less than 12 hours when I found him and took this photo; thus it’s a stark reminder how bad it’s been this year and you can bet we’ll be paying close attention to the numbers of deer we’re seeing in comparison to past years when it comes time to really hit the stands in the very near future.
Bill Miller, host of North American Hunter TV :
Not a whole lot new to report from here in the Northwoods. Last Saturday was the opener of bow season in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and as usually nearly every buck in the woods is slicked up. Velvet shedding rubs are prevalent. From what I’ve in my evening and nocturnal turns around the neighborhood, the bucks are still in bachelor groups, but not wadded up as tightly as they were last week and definitely the week before. Deer I’ve been watching and seeing together every evening were absent from the group a couple evenings last week, then showed up again.
With dark before the dawn temperatures dropping into the 30s even here in the Twin Cities metro area (we had a pretty good frost one morning last week), there’s no denying the deer are moving more and moving early. If the weather holds and we don’t get prolonged rain, crops will be coming out of the fields pretty soon – first the beans and then the corn. That is sure to break up the bucks and dislodge them from those wonderful, set feeding patterns that can be such a boon to early-season bow hunters.
If all follows the usual plan, we’ll then move into that dreaded October lull. So in the next reports we’ll focus on strategies of finding bucks during the lull – that is, if the waterfowl and bird hunting schedule permits! Of course, those are great scouting opportunities, too.
Luke Hartle, Senior Editor, North American Hunter:
Colder weather is finally here! I’ve had trail cameras rolling since mid-August, and it wasn’t until a week ago the Minnesota weather finally took a Minnesota swing—and it put the bucks on their feet. I’ve gotten at least five times as many buck photos during the past week as I got the entire month prior.
The Minnesota archery season opened September 17, and although the weather has continued to cooperate, there have already been struggles. The acorns are falling like crazy right now, and for any part of the state with a solid oak population, the deer are feeding sporadically and are largely scattered. To stiffen the challenge, we had a killing frost the morning of September 15, and that pushed the whitetails out of the bean fields much quicker than expected. This has prompted many bucks into their early October night-traveling patterns.
The flip side is that the killing frost will move the fall agricultural harvest up. If the weather continues to cooperate, it could be a crop-free, spectacular November.
Hank Parker Jr., co-host of Hank Parker 3D:
My first hunt of the season took place in Kentucky. I had the opportunity to watch some of the bucks lose their velvet. I noticed that the bucks are breaking up and fading away from their summer pattern. In return, that puts the bucks on high alert and makes it tougher for hunters to pattern them.
Today, I am in elk camp in New Mexico. The bulls are a little behind schedule of where they are expected to be this time of the year. Stan Potts is in camp with us. He showed me a picture of a huge whitetail he took during the first week of Kentucky’s bow season.
Blaine Burley, Tecomate Land Management Professional Georgia
Most bucks have shed their velvet and are breaking up from their bachelor groups. Starting to see some small rubs and scrapes on my properties. Based on my Reconyx trail cam photos, deer activity (especially younger bucks) has increased this past week.
Hardy Jackson, Tecomate Pro Staff-Texas:
Dry, dry, dry in south Texas. Usually September here at Campos Viejos is a wet month but the lack of rainfall has escalated this year’s drought to the worst we’ve seen in our 11 years. Those without food plots and supplemental feed are feeling the brunt of it as deer herds on these ranches continue to be highly stressed. We were very fortunate to have gotten just enough moisture to produce our Tecomate Lab Lab food plots this spring. Combined with supplemental feed the deer have come out of summer in great shape. Twin fawns are the norm; a sure sign of good nutrition and the bucks’ bodies are heavy and their antlers are large and fully formed.
In the next few weeks, rubs should start appearing all over the ranch as the bucks begin to shed their velvet. It’s an exciting time, as we gather Reconyx trail cameras and take photos in the photo blinds, trying to locate potential shooters for our clients this winter.
The arrival of fall means it’s time to get it done here at Campos Viejos. Time to jump on the John Deere and disc under summer food plots; praying for rain, and hoping to bank moisture for the spring. In addition, readying stands, mowing senderos and prepping for winter plots are just some of the many projects that will have to be completed before our hunters arrive.
The season looks promising and we can’t wait to get started.
Brett Miller, Online Hunting Editor at NBCSports.com: Pennsylvania
I haven’t seen a buck in velvet in two weeks now, not that one or two might still be clinging on to it, but I haven’t seen them. Small rubs are popping up around the woods and the young bucks are starting to feel their oats. The rut or the pre-rut is still a few weeks away, but the young boys are ready now. The older bucks are starting to slink back to their wary ways. They aren’t nocturnal yet, but they appear to be separating themselves from the other deer. Don’t get me wrong, a few will still be running with one or two other deer, but the bachelor groups are splitting up more each day. Tickling the antlers, a little soft grunts and cover scents are the game plan now. I’d set up off a food source with hopes of catching a mature buck passing by on his way to it or from while there was still shooting light. Good luck, and if the season hasn’t started yet, keep practicing! You never know when that practice will pay off with the shot of a lifetime.