Nov 10, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT
Ah, the leaves have changed, or many are on the ground, snow has started falling in the West, and even we East Coasters have seen the white stuff on the ground. The corn and beans are being harvested and, oh yeah, the RUT IS ON! In most places the bucks are ready for love and the does are finally coming into heat as well. If you’re looking for that great time in the outdoors, this is it. If your season is open, do us all a favor and get out there. Don’t wait for the perfect day; today is perfect, and you might not get a better chance to fill your tag with a mature buck, unless you want to face the brutal cold of late season. Let’s see what our whitetail experts are seeing in their neck of the woods.
Blaine Burley, Tecomate Professional Land Manager– Middle GA
Saskatchewan- Lots of pre-rut activity. Bucks were in the SEEK stage of rut. Saw lots of fresh scrapes and rubs. Bucks were also feeding heavy on bait sites preparing for rut and cold weather. Starting to get some daytime photos on our Reconyx trail cameras of bucks traveling and searching for receptive does. I shot a big 12-pointer on the third day of my hunt with my Traditions 50-Cal. Vortek.
Georgia-Lots of peak rutting activity this week due to colder weather! Bucks are actively chasing does. Most scrapes have gone cold and have not been worked the past week. Bucks are feeding much less on Tecomate food plots and at baited sites this week. I rattled in several nice mature bucks this week. Also, got some photos of several nice bucks on our Reconyx trail cameras.
Allen Treadwell, co-host of 100% Real Hunting:
Well, everyone, it’s sweet November. And so far it has not disappointed. As I said last week, it appears to be a bit a lot of rut activity going on across the Midwest. I’ve talked to friends from Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, and I’ve been hunting Missouri and the rut is here. I spent the weekend on a property I hunt a bunch in northern Missouri, and the bucks were cruising. I saw several young bucks moving around and only saw one mature 8 out looking.
We have so many acorns it is not funny, so the does are staying on them and not coming out to the food pots very much in fear that they will get harassed by a young buck if they do. This weekend is rifle opener in Missouri and I don’t really know what to expect; it could be great, or it could be the dreaded lockdown period. Only time will tell. On the up side, I had a buddy watch a giant breed a doe in Kansas on the 5th, and 28 days later puts the second estrus cycle right in the middle of the Kansas rifle season. Honestly, if you are reading this and are not in the woods right now, you are wasting time. Get out there and get that buck killed if you haven’t already. And actually I have spent way too much time writing this—sorry, folks but I’m headed to the stand! Good luck, everyone!
Hank Parker Jr., co-host of Hank Parker 3D:
Finally, the month we wait all year for, November. This is my favorite time of the year, the temperatures start to drop, the leaves are showing fall colors and best of all, the deer are on the move. There is nothing like being in the stand on that perfect day, when bucks are cruising and chasing does everywhere. The anticipation is at an all-time high because you know at any given moment the biggest buck of your life could come in right on the heels of a hot doe.
This November, the full moon is on the 10th. I am writing this from my stand on the 6th and I am in Minnesota of all places. The rut usually begins with younger bucks chasing does before the time is just right.
That is what I am seeing now, lots of young deer up on their feet anticipating the yearly breeding cycle. My brother Billy “Catfish” Parker has been hunting in Ohio and is seeing the same thing as what’s going on in Minnesota. The full moon should start the onset of the does going into their estrus cycle. The big boys know when it’s time. And, when the time is right, these bucks will lose their minds! The bucks that only move in the dark will now stand in cut corn fields, open woods, and on the side of the highway all in broad daylight.
There will be a short period when these bucks are on lockdown – when the bucks are breeding their does. When this period is over, those bucks will frantically be looking for other does. Good luck and enjoy the best month of the year!
Wade Middleton, host of Yamaha Whitetail Diaries-Texas:
I didn’t spend as much time in the woods this week since I did some fishing up in northeast Oklahoma, but I can tell you in that area what I did see and that was quite a few deer on the side of the road dead as the result of deer-and-vehicle collisions. When I see that this time of the year it generally means there is some serious chasing going on by the bucks as that generally causes deer to run more out into the open areas and into traffic; thus just seeing that leads me to think that chasing activity in that part of the nation is certainly picking up.
All told, I probably saw a dozen or more deer dead on the side of the highway, and seeing that makes me want to remind everyone that it’s time to be a bit more careful as we drive down the highways and backroads to our hunting areas and to really keep our eyes peeled for deer running into the road. Make sure when you see one cross the road to look back behind it for two or more! I’ve personally had the unpleasant feeling of hitting two deer in my life and I can tell you they do some damage. One particular buck was right behind a doe that crossed in front of me and one that I barely missed only to have the second deer hot on her tail plow dead into the side and front panel of my truck. I’ll never forget watching him stagger off into the peanut field under the light of my one remaining headlight.
Another thing to keep in mind: metal can be fixed on a vehicle so be careful trying to dodge a wayward buck or doe too aggressively running across the road. I’ve had a couple of friends really swerve to miss deer with one rolling his SUV and another running off the road into a tree both resulting in serious injury. So sometimes it’s better to brake gently then go swerving hard to miss them!
Bill Miller, host of North American Hunter TV :
The sit in the Wyoming deer stand with which I opened my contribution to last week’s Rut Report provided proof positive the whitetail rut is getting started in the Hulett, Wyoming, area. The first morning there we saw no less than 10 bucks all participating in rut and pre-rut activity. We filmed them sparing with each other, battling ferociously with tree limbs, freshening existing scrapes, making new scrapes and bird-dogging does. No does yet appeared receptive, but the bucks kept them on the move and a few does just seemed flighty. Every now and then one would come into view running, stop a few moments, look around, then take off running again for, what seemed to us, no reason whatsoever.
As we’d gather each night back at the lodge of Trophies Plus Outfitters in Alzada, Montana, other hunters and their guides reported seeing similar activity at increasing levels through the week. We, too, noticed a marked difference in the rut-related activity of the deer from the first day on Saturday October 29 to our last day on Thursday November 3. It was enough to give me pause about making any portion of the 11-hour drive home outside of daylight hours!
Now that I’m headed to Lethbridge, Alberta, and Sundowner Outfitters, it makes me wonder to what stage the rut will have progressed there. Because we’ll be farther north, I’m guessing we’ll be in for pretty much a repeat of what we saw in Montana and Wyoming last week. That might leave some of you scratching your heads and asking, “Shouldn’t the rut logically progress from North to South?” It might be logical, but it doesn’t work that way.
One common trait of all whitetails is the average length of gestation. That is the number of days from breeding to fully-formed fetus. However, in adapting to the region they inhabit various groups and subspecies time the rut (breeding period) to the optimal time for dropping fawns. So the farther north or the higher in elevation you go, it’s better for deer to drop fawns after the chances of severe winter weather has passed and there is ample nutrition for nursing does. Therefore the rut arrives later in these areas with the potential for severe spring weather even into May or June.
Certainly local autumn weather/climatic conditions stress deer differently in individual seasons. Moon phase and photoperiod are also believed to be involved in triggering the whitetail pre-rut and rut Additional stressors undoubtedly play a role in triggering hormones and therefore estrus as well. And as we all know, some does are “missed” or breeding is unsuccessful during the first estrous cycle, so these does will come in season about four weeks later therefore producing the infamous “second rut.”
So all that’s going to give me a lot to contemplate as I watch deer from the stand in Alberta. I’ll let you know if what I actually see jibes with what I think I will see. But rest assured the grunt tube and rattlin’ horns are packed for this trip!
David Shashy, Tecomate Pro Staffer- Eastern Colorado
The whitetail rut in Eastern Colorado is definitely heating up. Plenty of action was taking place in the wide open prairie country and river bottoms of this region October 22nd through October 26th. David Morris and I just concluded our third consecutive whitetail hunt in as many seasons on the plains of Colorado with the “master of the prairie spot and stalk,” Aaron Nielson, of Global Hunting Resources. Our strategy has normally been to locate mature bucks to hunt just after daylight when most deer travel from the crop fields to bed in the sparsely vegetated rolling hillsides or in the thick cottonwood and tamarack choked dry river bottoms. Success on our prior hunts here had not depended on intense rut activity. More so, we have depended on the late fall feeding patterns still intact during the pre-rut period for success on this hunt.
We arrived in Southeast Colorado on October 21st to find that the area crop fields, normally grown to over head high, were only half developed at best, only knee-high in most places. The John Deere tractors and harvesters that gather tons of grain this time of year were parked. Drought conditions in the area we hunt have run roughshod over the crops and native vegetation as well. After looking over several mature bucks on the first day we were fully aware that antler growth had been negatively affected. And common sightings of bucks with half their racks broken off or with multiple broken points indicated to us that we may be in for a tough hunt. I have never seen so many bucks with broken racks, especially this early in the season. These bucks were seen daily. Pre-rut sparring and fighting had definitely occurred before we arrive.
An abundance of pre-rut behavior was observed during the first four days of our hunt. Bucks posturing and sparring were common. Bucks making and tending scrapes were observed daily in numbers. Plenty of brush breaking and an occasional clash of antlers could be heard while sitting on the bluffs glassing into the thick tamarack while waiting for deer to begin their late afternoon journey to the crop fields uphill. We observed several mature bucks during the first four days hunting, but no gross 170+ B&C racks like we`ve encountered the previous two seasons. I did get excited about a fantastic 150 class 8 point, with 8” to 9” brow tines, which we located the first morning. We stalked him on the third day without success. David Morris was still shopping after four days.
Weather reports indicated that the last day of our hunt would be wet, windy, and cold. There was a good chance of snow or freezing rain. Temperatures thus far had been as high as 85 F degrees in the afternoon, hardly conducive to major deer movement and rut activity during daylight hours. Daily we located bedded bucks through our Leupold spotting scopes as they held tight to cover, sometimes bedded all afternoon until after shooting hours had passed before getting up to make a living. We hoped that a change in the weather would kick the bucks into a higher level of daylight rut activity immediately. And it did.
October 26th, our last morning began in typical fashion with Aaron guiding us to a vantage point before daylight, high on a bluff overlooking the river bottom, with crop fields uphill a mile or so in the distance across the dry river bed. Today, unlike the four previous days, deer did not pour out of the corn and milo fields at first light. This grey misty cold morning had the bucks stirred up and hanging tight with small doe groups in the plains far above the thick river bottom. There was no doe chasing observed, but the bucks were hanging close to their potential girlfriends. We located a 160 B&C class 8 pt with several does on a hillside close to camp in the broad open around 8:00 AM. This sighting led to the conclusion of David Morris` hunt four hours later. Aaron`s relentless pursuit of this buck across three or four miles or so of yucca/sage plains guided us all the way. It all ended in a thick tamarack creek bottom where David took this 24” wide monster 8 point with a spectacular running shot at 150 yards. David`s buck had refused to part with a small band of does until the final moments just before he separated him for from the small herd with his Sako A7 Tecomate Rifle, .270 WSM.
After lunch we repeated nearly the same exercise, but with a bit more exhilaration, as I blundered my way into another heavy beamed mature Colorado 8 pointer at the conclusion of the final day. I did burn up more Winchester Supreme cartridges than David Morris, but all is well that ends well. Further reports from camp since we departed on October 27th indicate that rut activity has intensified. The recent harvest of two 170 class bucks since David and I left camp on October 27th is strong evidence that by now the whitetail rut in Eastern Colorado is in full swing!
Brett Miller, Online Hunting Editor at NBCSports.com
The seek phase of the rut has definitely kicked in here in my area. I have seen way too many bucks chasing and I’ve seen some trail cam photos that would make celebrities blush of bucks and does propagating. The funny thing is I’m also hearing some people not too far from me seeing absolutely nothing at all. The rut might be in full swing on one farm and the farm down the road might see little activity. Why is that? I have no clue; it’s wildlife, and nothing is a sure thing. But, that farm down the road could explode overnight with full-on rut activity, so be prepared.
Right now use your scents, use your calls, use your woodsman/woman skills and sit all day. It’s a bit warmer this past week than it should be, and the moon is a bit brighter, but I’m still seeing big mature bucks being tagged at all hours of the day. The rut is short and sweet; you wait all year for this time of the year, get out there and fill those tags! When you do fill it, be sure to share your trophy photos with us all. And, if you’re looking for the best weekly tips emailed to you each Friday morning, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.