What deer activity are you seeing?
Temperatures across the Midwest have been unseasonably warm in recent days. The lack of cold and snow is welcomed by many, but not deer hunters still trying to fill a tag. Very little snow remains on the ground, with the exception of areas in the northernmost midwestern states.
Poor conditions have resulted in sporadic feeding patterns. Daylight activity has tapered off, with trail cameras showing a lot more deer moving after dark, and almost all mature buck movement taking place at night.
Flickers of secondary rut action reported last week have since faded. All reports from around the region indicate current movement is centered solely around food. Some contacts say the best activity is occurring in the last hour or so of legal light. They also report decent morning movement occurring closer to bedding areas.
Looking ahead, there doesn't appear to be any notable changes in forecasted weather conditions. Parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin will see a slight cool off early next week, but it's not the significant temperature swing hunters hope for. All said, if you're still trying to notch a tag, focus on evening hunts and green food sources, such as wheat or brassicas. If there are still acorns on the ground, don't overlook them as possible morning hunt locations. Deer will browse on remaining mast as they make their way back to bed.
In review, 2019 was a great year to be a deer hunter in the Midwest. Major October cold fronts were a regular occurrence during the early season and pre-rut, and that created excellent opportunities to capitalize on bucks following predictable patterns.
As we moved into November, decent weather held, and rutting behavior kicked off in line with historical dates. Most of the region experienced the fast-paced, intense rut that the Midwest is known for, including a severe lock-down during peak breeding. Illinois, Iowa and parts of Nebraska saw hot rut action continue a bit later in November than the rest of the region. December brought excellent late-season conditions for nearly all of the Midwest, too.
While many states will close out the 2019 season with less-than-ideal hunting conditions, there's a lot to be thankful for this year. I hope you found success along the way, and most of all, had fun during your time spent afield. If you're still hard at it, good luck and thanks for following along with these reports throughout the season. We'll see you again in 2020.
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