Now is the time to be in a treestand, even if it is beach weather
Last week, we announced a significant escalation in cruising by mature bucks. This week, that's still happening, but now, they're pairing off with female counterparts. Historically, the bulk of Midwestern does enter estrus between Nov. 10 and Nov. 20. That's right now.
However, warm weather has persisted throughout the region. It's finally beginning to cool off, but for most, temperatures aren't anywhere near mid-November averages. That won't stop deer from breeding, of course, but it can stifle daytime movement.
In the Dakotas, deer are right on track, and hunters are seeing good mature buck movement, including Realtree pro staffer Melissa Bachman.
I've been seeing a lot of activity from bucks even with the extremely hot weather, Bachman says. My decoy has been smoked twice by bucks, and big deer have been on their feet.
She had a recent encounter with a 160-inch buck that just wouldn't quite commit to the decoy. Still, the deer was on his feet in the 80-degree weather about an hour before dark. With daytime highs in the 70s and 80s, most movement has been early in the morning and late in the afternoon. However, temps are dropping now, and all-day chasing should begin soon if it hasn't already.
Whitetail outfitter and Grigsby host Mike Stroff is in South Dakota, too. He's seeing solid action. The rut is in full swing, Stroff says. They're chasing all day long and fighting like crazy. All bucks (big and small) are running does.
In Nebraska, Whitetail Fits' Joel Burham says the first week or so of November was difficult. It has been very hot the past week and a half, which is tough for daylight movement, Durham says. I'm hunting through my rut-cation tour right now.
He spent the past two weeks in Nebraska, though, and only saw a handful of good bucks to show for it. He did rattle in a big non-typical to within 6 yards, but thick cover prevented a shot opportunity. Despite tough hunting, he says the really good action is close.
It's going to take a cold snap to switch the daylight movement on, but they are currently running does, Durham says. In my opinion, the big boys will likely go into lockdown very soon.
Over to Indiana, Realtree pro staffer Carl Drake says mature bucks are making daylight appearances. He's even seeing some chasing.
Trail cameras are showing deer movement throughout the day, even with this warm weather, Drake says. A buddy of mine in northern Indiana watched a buck breed a doe twice. It's about to break open.
It seems the same is true in Illinois, too. Bowhunt or Die co-host Todd Graf is seeing great activity. Things are heating up quickly, Graf says. I [recently] watched a buck locked down with a doe. Multiple bucks were lurking right behind them. Despite the warmup, I expect the next few days are going to be good.
In Ohio, the hunting hasn't been quite as good for Realtree pro staffer Anthony Virga. Young bucks are moving at all parts of the day, Virga says. Mature bucks are visiting scrapes middle of the night. I'm starting to think they're chasing middle of the night due to the warmth. I'm not seeing many adult does during daylight, either.
I also hunt in Ohio, and I'm seeing similar activity. Mature bucks are making occasional daylight appearances, but they're irregular and fleeting. Still, it's the rut, and deer are doing their thing. Even though warmer temperatures have reduced the daytime movement we typically see this time of year, it's still time to be in a tree. You never know when that big buck will walk by.
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Longtime Realtree.com contributor Josh Honeycutt is a guy who knows big deer and makes a full-time living writing about them. He hails from Kentucky but hunts all over the Midwest.