The 2022 rut is winding down, but there's still time to fill that buck tag before it's all over
As the final days of November fade and the shortening days grow colder, the midwestern rut slides a little farther into recent memory. By now, the vast majority of adult whitetail does are past their estrus cycle, and bucks are wearing down.
Now, while younger bucks are starting to call off the search due to exhaustion, mature bucks have reserves in the tank for the final stretch run. These next few days might not relinquish a receptive female for them, but they'll try nonetheless. Older bucks know that a few does are still receptive, and they're working hard to find them.
Just look at the record books. Some of the biggest, oldest whitetails ever taken were harvested during the latter days of November and early December. Furthermore, many of these bucks were still in cruise mode. That's reason enough to stay after it if an unfilled tag is in your pocket.
Drilling down on specific areas of the region, Joe Ogden of Indian Hill Outfitters says the rut has been a good one this year. Now, a lot of the deer are attempting to recoup weight loss, but some bucks are still running. I'd say most of the deer herd is going to food, but no big bucks are being seen on food, he said. Also, a lot of mature bucks have been ghosting my trail cams. He thinks that could mean that some mature bucks are still finding the last of the receptive does.
In southeastern Wisconsin, Dan Infalt says gun season recently ended. The rut is largely over with, but some cruising and chasing is still happening. Saw small bucks chasing yearling does around on two occasions while grunting, he said. Still finding the occasional scrape. The pressure from gun the last few days has been heavy, but still seeing deer in fields in the evening. And some bucks are still getting hit by cars chasing does, though it's a lot less intense than a couple weeks ago. Cameras are still showing good midday movement, too.
Outdoor videographer Clay Courington spends a lot of time on the road filming hunts. He recently had trips to Iowa and Illinois. He says the weather has been good, and the deer movement has, too. According to him, bucks are still searching for does.
Looking ahead, waning rut activity should continue for the next week or so. After that, expect a trickle of doe fawns to start entering estrus. Now, according to my cell cameras in multiple states, bucks are back to checking scrapes as they frantically search for remaining does.
Regarding the weather, the 10-day forecast isn't too promising. Highs are going to range from the high 30s to upper 50s for much of the region. Still, get out there and capitalize on the final days of the rut. It won't last much longer.
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