Oct 20, 2011, 1:55 PM EST
Week 9 of the Rut Report finds us still in the October Lull in many parts of the country. October is the month I have always grown to look forward to, it signaled Fall and hunting seasons. I’m learning more and more to look forward to November and the Rut than I am for October anymore. The pre-rut is fun to hunt if you’re interested in a less than mature buck, and trust me a buck is a buck to me, but this time of year you’re more than likely to see a sub-dominate buck in daylight than a mature dominate buck. The big boys are locked down and conserving their strength for the rigors of the rut. If you want to tag out early on a nice mature buck get back in near the bedding areas, but don’t let them wind you or your season could be over. Stay tuned for the next few weeks we’ll experience the 2011 roller coaster ride of the Rut!
Mali Vujanic, Tecomate Associate Conultant– Maryland and Delaware
Here in the northeast the rut is about 3.5 to 4 weeks away and closing fast. Despite a few good bow kill bucks hitting the dirt the last couple weeks, we are now officially in the “October Lull” and unpressured mature buck activity is at the very tail end of daylight and throughout darkness. They have found their breeding zone/comfort zone that includes a solid food source, water and plenty of does to breed. Travel is to a minimum right now and all of their energy is spent moving to and from food, scraping and rubbing. If you are out there trying to kill a mature buck right now, it can be done but you better be on top of your game! Trail cameras are confirming most mature bucks on food sources are well after dark, making them even harder to kill. This is a critical time of the season and you can easily and accidentally bump a buck off your property due to hunting pressure……so play it safe.
While finishing up the last of my fall food plots today I lost track counting field edge scrapes that were under every overhanging branch. Field edge scrapes are my favorite scrapes to throw a camera on because every buck that comes to the field will eventually come to visit. You can spice up those scrapes with Code Blue Grave Digger Scrape Mate for added attraction. Plus, scrapes are the absolute best place to get some really cool pictures and video! Be sure to wear clean rubber boots while standing around the scrape and try to wear rubber gloves when placing the trail camera. Do not touch anything with your bare hands if possible
Look for an increase in tree rubs over the next 10 days or so and for you seasoned Big Buck hunters, signpost rubs will start getting hit any time. These too are great places for getting the big mature hammers on camera but keep your distance. Keep your walks in the woods to a minimum and if you must go in and move or hang stands, do it as quickly and quietly as possible. Let your trail cameras do your dirty work and remember, the rut will be here and be gone before you know it. Get your game plan and gear together for the Big Show!!
Jason Thompson, Tecomate Pro Staffer- Alabama
For those of us in the southeast and in many areas of the country bow season has opened and hunting is in full swing. I have read some great hunting reports throughout the country from fellow bow hunters. It sounds like the season has gotten off to fantastic start for so many. I have also read several reports involving 190-plus class deer taken in several areas of the country. It’s amazing to me to hear and read about so many giant deer being taken on a regular basis. It goes to show you how good nutrition; age structure and overall Quality Deer Management practices will dramatically improve any deer herd. I am especially thankful for pioneers in the QDM world like Tecomate’s David Morris and Dr. Gary Schwarz and organizations like Tecomate and QDMA have paved the way in creating an overall plan for better deer management. Without their foresight and vision we may still be applying the old “if it’s brown it’s down” philosophy. Thankfully we have taken their ideas and we are truly in the golden age of deer hunting.
If you hail from the Yellow hammer state, you know October 15th always marks the time when the deer woods become alive. We begin our quest for the nice buck we have been seeing on our Reconyx cameras, thin the doe herd and improve our bow hunting skills. Fall temperatures have been teasing our state for the past couple of weeks and it looks like we are seeing the last traces of an Indian summer. We were able to get our Tecomate food plots planted right after Labor Day and we are already seeing some really good growth in each of our plots. We have been spending time cleaning our shooting houses and weed eating and raking trails to our stands. The bucks we have caught on our cameras seem to be hanging tight in their bachelor groups still. They should be breaking up in the next week or two. All of the deer have started transitioning from their red summer coats to the darker winter coats. If your season has gotten started, I hope you have been able to enjoy some success. Whether it be by drawing blood or just enjoy spending time in what God has entrusted us – the Great Outdoors. May all of your arrows fly true and all of your shots hit its mark.
Bill Miller, host of North American Hunter TV :
I’ve spent the last two weeks hunting ruffed grouse and woodcock. First on the Iron Range in Minnesota and then over last weekend in Marinette County, Wisconsin very close to the state line with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The latter is where my formative years were spent hunting deer out of the Waldo Gang Camp which pitched its tent every year from 1911 through 1987 under the big pine tree by the beaver ponds on the K.C. Creek. It’s where I still go to have the best conversations with my dad who’s now hunting the Happy Hunting Grounds.
In recent years both these areas reported (and I personally saw) major declines in deer numbers. It was a point over in the old stomping grounds where it was a major note in the hunting journal if a deer was encountered while bird hunting. I’m happy to say not this year! If I’d recorded every deer sighting it would have taken up the better part of a spiral notebook.
Both areas attributed the reduced deer numbers to increased numbers of wolves. Now I don’t know what may have happened to the wolves, but something must have if they have become the major limiting factor of the deer populations. Starting at 3:00 in the afternoon, about any open area I’d encounter whether a clear cut, an agricultural field, a natural grassland or a food plot I would see multiple deer. But as you might expect in early and mid-October I did not lay eyes on a single antler. The dreaded October Lull is no myth.
Getting to and from these hunts I put on about 1300 miles through prime deer country and even of the dump truck load of road kill I saw there was only a single fork-horn buck. The bucks are definitely not moving very much … yet.
But it’s coming. Big winds chased the unseasonably warm temps out of theUpper Midwestin the last few days. Now we’re chilling down and the days are getting noticeably shorter. Pre-rut and then real rut are not far away. Are you ready?
Hank Parker Jr., co-host of Hank Parker 3D:
Well, so far 2011 has been a tough season for me. I have been on four hunts and have yet to have drawn my bow! Several friends have sent me photos of their great deer. Seeing the success my buddies are having is like rubbing salt in the wound.
I have been in Kentucky, South Dakota, and North Carolina on deer hunts and I have two words for you: “October Slump”. It seems like this is the time of year when mature bucks go into hiding before the rut. This can be a very difficult time to get a good shot on a big buck.
This is an ideal portion of the season to focus on food sources. Here in North and South Carolina we experienced a good acorn crop this season. This can be good and bad. The abundance of acorns provides food for the deer, but without a concentration of acorns in one area deer can feed nearly anywhere. If you can find areas where deer are using a certain oak tree or group of acorn trees, you can really use C’mere Deer to set up a good ambush point.
I hunted in South Dakota the first week of October and the deer movement was slow, the overlying reason was epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). EHD is a waterborne disease that often kills off deer. So, not only were the deer not moving we also started finding dead bucks on a consistent basis.
I have heard several reports of the same thing happening along the Milk River in Montana. It is such a sad thing to see deer going to waste. We all know the rut is tough on bucks but it doesn’t even compare to EHD. If you want to find out more about EHD, please visit this page posted on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website.
I am ready for November! I am looking for things to turn around early. Hopefully by the last week of October deer should be on their feet moving around. Charlie Alsheimer’s predictions for the best deer hunting this year are to occur November 11-17 for the North. You can find his predictions in “Deer and Deer Hunting” magazine.
The full moon is on Thursday, November 10 this year, and I love hunting the few days before the full moon. So, a good rule of thumb, only if you job allows, is to hunt all day every day in November. You are certain to hit the best hunting days of the season. I am only kidding! If you spend the entire month of November in the woods you may be without a family. What’s a big buck really worth if you lose your family?
All kidding aside, my focus will be the first and second week of November and then the last week of November. I will keep an update on all the activity where I am hunting and report back to you.
Brett Miller, Online Hunting Editor at NBCSports.com:
Hunting here in PA I’m seeing more scrapes and rubs opening up this week than I have in the past few weeks. Literally overnight I’ve found new rubs and scrapes, but they’re all small. I had the opportunity to check out one brand new scrape that opened up overnight the other day; I looked hard at it and examined it like a hunter should. First off it was in an odd location, right on a human walking trail which I know many deer walk, but this is also close to a parking lot. Second I looked closely at the tracks in the scrape, they were small, small and narrow tracks mean young bucks. Further in I cut a fresh series of rubs, all on small trees, that again tells me the young bucks are ready to go, but the big boys are still waiting. I also have seen a bunch of does that past few days and all of them are still with fawns and have the creamy white tarsal glands. When you start seeing orphaned fawns walking through the woods and stained tarsal glands on the does you know the rut is happening. Good luck out there, I expect it to start exploding in the next week or two around here.