Dec 8, 2011, 11:52 AM EDT
I can’t believe we’re into Week 16 already! Where has this fall gone? It seems like just a week or two ago I was looking at the first rubs of the year, now I look at rubs and just wonder if that buck is still alive. The Rut Report has really shifted south, and you southern hunters, or those of you headed south are finally getting your fall/winter fun. The Texas rut is on fire, so I’m told. The rut is still taking place in the north too, so don’t worry if you still have tags unfilled. An unfilled tag to me just means that my buck has a chance to put on more antler mass for next year. That, or I spend too much time in the office and need to hunt more to get my tags filled. Let’s see what our whitetail experts are seeing and tagging this week, in Week 16 of the Rut Report.
Dr. Mickey Hellickson, Tecomate Associate Consultant– South Texas
I had the opportunity to hunt the panhandle region of northern Idaho with host Mike Gabba during November 13th-19th.
We hunted hard for 5 days at various locations outside of Priest River. We walked to three to six locations daily to rattle for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. We also spent several hours each day driving public roads through recently clear-cut areas, glassing at all appropriate vantage points. Finally, we stand hunted (on the ground) either one morning or evening each day.
After all of this hunting, using a wide variety of hunting techniques, we ended up seeing too few deer to really get a feel for the stage of the rut in this region. All told, we saw only 4 bucks, 8 does, and 2 unidentified deer; not nearly enough encounters to reliably gauge the rut.
We rattled at over 20 locations and only had one-buck responses, which by itself would indicate the rut either had already peaked or had yet to peak?
However, one evening we observed a buck chase off another buck. That same evening we heard a buck give the tending grunt call three different times.
After consulting with David Morris, he suspected a heavier than normal winterkill last winter likely reduced the deer densities in the area we hunted. A low deer density may be the culprit explaining the apparent lack of rutting activity during what should have been the peak of the rut for us that week.
Jason Snavely, Tecomate Associate Consultant-Pennsylvania:
The last three days of November on drop tine farms in Pennsylvania have been very much like years past. The statewide gun opener highly impacts mature buck movement during daylight hours. In fact, trail cameras are revealing that many bucks have even minimized nighttime movement. I’ve observed a 3-year-old that is off limits rigorously chase a doe fawn. A handful of does and even some healthy fawns will be entering estrus triggering the second chase phase and some fresh scraping behavior. Mature bucks will move into food sources and where does are in very low light conditions. Trees are bare of leaves and, as a result, buck patterns are certainly changing once again. As a result you must observe and adapt your hunting strategy accordingly. As a manager, I’m also closely observing my food source management program to identify short falls that can be tweaked next year. Successful forage soybean plays are still producing grain for deer and make an excellent plot to hunt during this phase of the season.
Wade Middleton, host of Yamaha Whitetail Diaries-Texas:
This past week was full of wide-open rutting action in many parts of Texas. We saw bucks running, fighting and acting stupid like they do in the rut and ended up seeing many new bucks we had not ever seen. It never ceases to amaze me how in the rut bucks show up that you’ve never seen. Personally, as I’ve said before, I think hunting the full bore rut can be frustrating and harder than any other time when you’re hunting for one particular buck. However, when you’re just hunting targets of opportunity, it’s a great time to go.
This past week has been a perfect example as I’ve been hunting a buck I call Pin Cushion. He’s a main frame ten point that has actually been wounded by other bow hunters twice. Early in the year, I knew where he was but didn’t have time to hunt him and now that I do have time I can’t find him to save my life. However, we’ve seen him running does the last two days (about a half a mile from where I thought I could get a shot) and my next-door neighbor just called and said a big ten was showing up at a water hole and had I seen him……Grrrrr dang rut has him chasing deer next door now!
On the flip side, we found half a dozen mature bucks this year that we had never seen, which left me wondering what to shoot and not shoot! The rut: Love it or hate it, it’s a fun time to get into the field, which I’m off to do now!
P.S.: Here are a few pictures of bucks taken this past week.
Brett Miller, Online Hunting Editor at NBCSports.com
I’ve been hunting hard the past month and honestly I believe we’re experiencing the second rut right now. If you don’t understand how the Rut and a doe’s estrous cycle works, I’ll explain. A doe comes into heat and can be bred for 12 to 24 hours, though a buck might follow her for days as she reaches her zenith of breedability. If that same doe is not bred or it doesn’t “take” she will come back into heat in 26-28 days. She will continue this cycle until Mother Nature changes her body’s chemicals balance. If her chemical balance didn’t change, you could see fawns being born this time of year. An early-born fawn from this past spring with the proper nutrition will also come into heat this year, though she’ll be a late breeder.
So with different does peaking at different times you could almost have an endless rut action if you have enough different properties to hunt. I’m lucky to hunt in such a big state, hunting across the state has shown me these different rut times, and I’m loving it. Just yesterday I saw a beautiful eight pointer chasing a doe; unfortunately it was before shooting time and he chased her across the road as I drove to my hunting spot, but at least it showed me the rut is still happening.
Keep hunting if the season is open; if the rut is played out in your neck of the woods, hit the food sources. Those big bucks who have depleted their fat reserves need to add weight quickly for the coming cold winter. Good luck and let us know how you have done.
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