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Lockdown is Tapering Off in the Midwest

White-Tailed Deer


Lockdown is Tapering Off in the Midwest

Posted 2023-11-28  by  Josh Honeycutt

The peak-rut action is beginning to end, and the oldest bucks are cruising again

Thanksgiving week marks the end of the lockdown and the beginning of another stretch of decent cruising. That’s especially true for the most mature bucks on the landscape, which have saved a little gas in the tank for the last leg of the primary rut.

Outdoor writer Tyler Ridenour is hunting in Iowa, and he expresses just how slow it’s been there. The rut activity has dwindled almost to nothing. Furthermore, general daylight deer movement has decreased, too. Paired with recent warmer-than-average temperatures, it’s been a challenge to see mature bucks.

HuntStand’s Josh Dahlke is in Minnesota and Wisconsin. When asked about the movement up there, he had one simple response, “They disappeared. The end.” Enough said.

Own the Season’s Art Helin has been hunting in Wisconsin, and he says the recent wave of gun hunters has impacted daylight deer movement. “Rifle season has started, so [movement] has come to a halt,” Helin said. “Prior to this past Saturday, they were chasing hard and still pushing does.” Now, much of that action is happening at night.

Outdoor industry veteran Carl Drake has been in Indiana. “The rut has slowed down quite a bit,” he said. “Big bucks are back on their feet coming out of lockdown, but most movement we are seeing is nocturnal.”

Tim Andrus has been hunting in Illinois. Just prior to the gun season, trail cameras went fairly quiet, potentially signaling lockdown. Then, the three-day gun season produced little to no action.

“Not much rutting activity at all,” he said. “I just got home from Illinois and have three close friends stating the same comments. I did three all-day sits in my blind — 11 ½ hours per day. Saw does, 1 ½-, and 2 ½-year-old bucks, but not even a glimpse of a shooter buck. All movements were at night. But I did see a lot of young bucks cruising and chasing. Tough hunt.”

Outdoor writer Brandon Butler hunts in Missouri. “The main portion of Missouri's firearms season has wrapped up, but bucks are still showing plenty of rutting activity,” he said. “When they find a receptive doe, they may be locked down for a bit, but then the search continues.

“Hunting over a powerline, I saw dozens of bucks move through on the same scent trails,” he continued. “Does have been hanging in the thick stuff, but once they show themselves, you can expect a buck or two to be close behind. I was able to shoot a buck just before sunset on November 19. He came into the field and scent-checked three does. Not finding what he was looking for, he went to check a scrape on a fence line that ultimately led him into range.

Overall, he suggests hunting close to food sources where you expect does to show up. The bucks won’t be far behind.

As for me, I recently hunted in Missouri as well. I hunted five straight days, three of those being all-day sits (and a fourth, except for a brief trip to the range to re-zero my rifle after bumping the scope on a treestand ladder). I saw quite a bit of chasing by 1 ½- to 3 ½-year-old bucks. On day No. 4, I caught a brief glimpse of mature, 4 ½-year-old buck cruising, but no shot opportunity.

The next morning, I ended up shooting a nice 8-pointer, and the Winchester Power Point in the new .400 Legend cartridge dropped the buck in its tracks. The round busted through the near-side scapula (high shoulder) and broke through the opposite-side scapula. The bullet was protruding from the broken shoulder blade just under the hide.

Overall, the past week produced decent rut action in some places, and poor activity in others. Hopefully, the next report showcases better movement, but that will depend on cooperative weather patterns.


  • Day Activity

  • Rubbing

  • Scraping

  • Fighting

  • Seeking

  • Chasing

  • Breeding

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