Rut action is getting good, and should only improve over the next 10 days
Seven days ago, we shared a message of cautious optimism. While cold, late-October temperatures led to the demise of many mature bucks, there wasn't a lot of rut activity. Sure, rub and scrape counts were increasing, but the cruising, chasing, and breeding just weren't happening yet. Of course, that's to be expected here in the Midwest, as the rut is driven by photoperiod and isn't a fluctuating event.
But times are changing. It's no longer just the young bucks cruising and chasing does. The big boys have joined the party, and it should only get better as we trot into the next 10 days.
Starting in Michigan, I checked in with Realtree United Country Land pro Chad Thelen. He had some great hunts last week but also some slow sits. Nonetheless, he says mature bucks are chasing does close to bedding areas.
All the fawns I saw were by themselves, and spent most of the day in the food plots, Thelen says. Unfortunately, the big buck I had at 75 yards last Thursday got hit by a car. This morning, on my drive in the dark, I saw several rut-crazed bucks.
To the west, in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, the Hunting Beast's Dan Infalt says bucks are invading doe bedding areas. They aren't just hitting those that border buck bedding areas, either. No, they're moving from one to the next. It's all-day movement, Infalt says. But it's really good morning and evening action.
Own the Season's Art Helin is witnessing similar behavior. He reports hard chasing and midday cruising by young and old bucks alike. He's even starting to see lone fawns, which can mean only one thing — bucks are pairing off with estrous does.
Over to Minnesota, Realtree.com contributor Alex Comstock is also seeing a major uptick in mature buck movement.
Up until Oct. 26, things were slow, Comstock says. Since then, I've noticed cruising. I've had bucks semi-chasing does and have had more rut behavior.
Just south of there, in Iowa, decorated competitive archer and Realtree pro staffer Jeff Hopkins likes what he's seeing but says the action kicked in gear a little earlier in his area.
My opinion? From cameras and talking with friends, the rut started last week, Hopkins says.
Midwest Whitetail's Bill Winke concurs that late October really produced for Iowa bowhunters.
It has been really good in October — maybe the best ever, Winke says. Some bucks have started chasing hard, and I am certain the first few does have already come into estrus. I shot a really nice buck on Friday Oct. 30, at 4 p.m. He was just walking through a bedding area.
With warm weather in the upcoming forecast, he expects morning hunts to be best. He also encourages hunting back in the cover, especially closer to bedding areas. Do that, and you should see really good action this coming week.
In Illinois, Grigsby host Mike Stroff pegs the last seven days as awesome. We had four hunters and killed three bucks with bows, Stroff says. They scored 184, 178, and 167 — not a bad week of hunting.
Now, he says that bucks are hitting scrapes in daylight and have been cruising hard in search of hot does. They have even been responding to rattling pretty well. That said, he's concerned about the warm weather in the upcoming forecast.
In Ohio, Realtree pro staffer Anthony Virga is seeing younger bucks hitting scrapes pretty regularly. They are also checking does at all hours of the day. On the other hand, mature bucks are just now on the fringe of daylight movement, but they are consistently visiting scrapes.
I also hunt in Ohio, and I'm seeing similar behavior. I haven't seen much hard chasing by mature bucks, but mature bucks are moving in daylight, and does are starting to enter estrus. All it takes is one hot doe to turn the woods upside down. Be in a tree when it happens.
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.
(Don't Miss: Have You Ever Rattled Up a Buck with a Climbing Stand?)