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Some Midwestern States Still in Lockdown, Others Easing Out of It


Some Midwestern States Still in Lockdown, Others Easing Out of It

Posted 2023-11-21  by  Josh Honeycutt

We’re still in the peak breeding window in the Midwest

It’s another day in the midwestern rut, and not a lot has changed in the past week. Sure, more does are bred now. But in most places, deer are still in the peak breeding window.

The Hunting Public’s Aaron Warbritton is in Missouri. He’s seen good activity the past several days. “Lots of movement and cruising activity,” he said. “Does are starting to group back up a bit but bucks are still in tow. All bucks were seen between 8-11 a.m.”

Growing Deer’s Grant Woods hunts the southern Missouri Ozarks. “Based on lots of data, the rut occurs at the same time each year,” he said. “But unless a receptive doe is near, the action seems slow. This is common during the peak of the rut.”

Ray Howell with Kicking Bear is in Wisconsin. “The last week of October was the funnest so far,” he said. “Lots of action. I harvested a magnificent buck along with several other people that week. I have been hunting Wisconsin and passing up several deer. I have seen a couple shooters bird dogging, but have not collected. Soon, I will pull out the rattling antlers and draw them in. I believe several deer have been in lockdown.”

Josh Raley, host of The Southern Way Hunting Podcast, was recently in Wisconsin, too.

“The big boys were pushing does around pretty good,” he said. “Then, it’s like the switch turned off. I saw nothing but young bucks and does the rest of my trip. The young bucks are obviously feeling it, chasing and pushing does, but the big boys have been hunkered down.”

Realtree ambassadors Josh and Rachelle Hedrick have been hunting in Ohio. Recently, they watched multiple bucks pinned down with estrus does. There, the lockdown continues.

Hunting guide Neil Kendall has been working in southeastern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky, with very similar reports from all hunters.

“I put a lot of hunters in the woods each day, and I get plenty of reports,” he said. “The rut has been spotty with the hot, dry weather. Seems to be a doe here and there coming in since late October until now. Not a big difference per day.”

Winchester’s Nathan Robinson is hunting in southern Illinois. “Bucks appear to be bird dogging does pretty closely,” he said. “Each time I’ve seen a doe, there has been a buck following behind. I’m hunting travel corridors and downwind of bedding areas in hopes a big one shows up.”

Still, he says the activity has been mild. Deer are moving slowly and calmly from place to place. He’s not seeing breeding or intense chasing.

Outdoor industry veteran Bart Goins is in Illinois, too, specifically Brown County. He says some bucks are still locked down.

North American Whitetail’s Blake Garlock is hunting along the Republican River in Nebraska, and he says it’s been tough. “Although I’ve had success in this region the last several years, this year seems off,” he said. “Overall, deer numbers where I’m at seem lower, and hot weather hasn’t helped.

“That said, cool mornings have helped deer movement during the first hours of legal light,” he continued. “I saw three different bucks chasing does, including one 4-year-old. Hopefully the increase in activity continues. I’m not sure what the current EHD status is for this area, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that has hit this region.”

Hunterra’s Ben Harshyne is in Iowa. “We’re heading into post-rut, where many does have bred and less are becoming available,” he said. “Bucks are walking at all hours of the day as they continue to look for another doe in estrus. They will walk further and longer in daylight, as fewer does are available.”

Checking in with Bone Collector’s Nick Mundt, he’s been in Kansas and Minnesota. “It was on fire November 1-5, but it went completely dead and deer are totally locked down with no mature buck sightings,” he said. “Minnesota is also locked down and bigger bucks have totally disappeared from the face of the earth. Mature deer sighting of any kind, doe or buck, are really tough after the gun slaughter the first week of November.”

All things considered, it’s the rut. And if you haven’t filled tags already, it’s time to be out there.

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  • Day Activity

  • Rubbing

  • Scraping

  • Fighting

  • Seeking

  • Chasing

  • Breeding

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