Things are on the upswing throughout the Midwest
Looking throughout the region, and studying the calendar, we aren’t far from the rut. Sure, we’re still about three or more weeks from peak-rut activity. But in my experience, it’s the two weeks leading up to that which can produce some of the best hunting opportunities. We’ll soon be into that late-October and early November window.
I’ve been monitoring cameras in Indiana and Ohio. Both places are showing good daylight movement. That said, most of that action is located around dropping oaks, secluded water holes, and on the fringes of thick cover. There isn’t a lot of field-edge action by 3 ½-plus-year-old bucks right now. However, there are a lot of rubs and scrapes appearing on the landscape.
Up to Iowa, Dan Johnson, host of Nine Finger Chronicles, hunted last weekend. He noticed an increase in sign (rubs and scrapes). He also noticed that trail camera activity slowly increased, but most is still after dark. And the oldest of mature bucks haven’t started to ramp up just yet. He thinks they’ll get going this week.
In central Wisconsin, Realtree contributor Darron McDougal, says it’s the calm before the storm. “Does and young bucks are on scrapes — bigger ones at night,” McDougal said. “Big movement days [according to HuntStand Whitetail Activity Forecast] are October 23-26. Those should be great days to hit the grunt call or rattling antlers.”
His friend, Ray Howell, hunts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. “He [Howell] says the coming days will be excellent for hunting downwind of bedding areas, especially on scrape lines,” McDougal said. “He likes to hunt after rain quits during that time, and we have rain coming.”
Further south, Phillip Vanderpool has been hunting in northern Missouri and north-central Kansas. He says both have been in droughts. Water sources continue to be major factors for hunting purposes. He said that acorns are somewhat abundant, too, but in pockets. Because of these things, deer seem to be very concentrated in pockets, with wide expanses harboring minimal deer numbers.
Where these exist, he said milo fields are really drawing deer right now. Recently, he hunted over a milo field and saw eight different bucks. Four were “shooters.” He said they’re bedding and feeding in it, only leaving to get water.
“They’re just staying there, but it’s close to a water source now,” he said. “If we get moisture, that will all change. But right now, I’d highly suggest hunting close to water and your food sources that are close to it.”
All things considered, we’re entering the final leg of October. Historically, this is a very good period to capitalize on bed-to-feed movements. Bucks’ testosterone levels are rising, too, provoking more frustration as few does are receptive yet. Toss in a forecasted cold front or two, and the next week to 10 days should produce some magical sits.
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