What deer activity are you seeing?
Rut activity is on the rise across the Midwest, but a few days later than most had expected. Daylight movement has been good overall, with mid-afternoon to early evening producing the most action. Bucks of all age classes are cruising in search of the first few estrus does, and chasing has been reported in some localized areas. A few of the first hot does can cause a spike in activity. Looking at the region as a whole, I expect the bulk of chasing to break wide open between Friday and Monday.
I'm currently hunting in western Kansas where the older-age-class bucks are starting to move more frequently. They're checking does. I was fortunate to arrow a solid 4-year-old buck Wednesday at 3 p.m. He came in to check a doe near my stand. Some bucks are starting to nudge does around a bit, but significant chasing hasn't been observed. A sure-tell sign that most does aren't ready yet is the large doe groups we're seeing feeding together, and the number of them still accompanied by fawns. A sharp warm-up is forecast for Saturday, followed by a cold front that will drop highs by over 40 degrees by Monday morning. If you have a Kansas tag in your pocket and vacation days to burn, be in the stand early next week.
I talked with Clint Schwach of B3 Archery in west central Missouri. He reported good cruising action, but little chasing or breeding happening yet. He said that rattling hasn't been very effective in his area, where it is typically a dynamite tactic. That said, grunting has been working very well. Schwach used grunts to help him kill a dandy buck on November 3.
The Buckeye state is one place where reports of good localized chasing have been reported, but according to Ohio DNR Deer Biologist Clint McCoy, the rut is still on track with historic data, where most does are breed around November 15.
In my home state of Michigan, along with most of the Upper Midwest, it's cold and snow has been falling. Bucks are cruising a lot, and midday activity is starting to increase. Some chasing has been reported. I expect the action to be hot over the weekend.
No matter where you hunt in the Midwest, it's time to be in the field regardless of weather or sightings in your area. In the second week of November, it can happen at any time. A slow hunt can turn into the buck of your dreams in seconds. Time on stand is critical; sit all day if you can and focus on known doe bedding areas and pockets of thick cover, where bucks are likely to push does to lock down and breed.
Good luck, stay safe and shoot straight.
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