What deer activity are you seeing?
Things were slow for most deer hunters the past couple weeks. That said, we're seeing some late-rut action across much of the region.
North Dakota and Minnesota
I talked to a group of friends who are currently hunting in North Dakota. Mature bucks are still checking does. Frigid, late-season conditions persist. Deer are feeding with a purpose as a result and grains are the primary food sources. Extremely cold temperatures are forecasted to continue in the Dakotas and Minnesota throughout the next week. If willing to brave the elements, these late-season conditions can provide solid opportunities. Deer will likely feed earlier in the day and follow very patternable movements.
I also spoke with my longtime deer hunter John Rubel. He just wrapped up a successful hunt during the Kansas firearm season. Rubel said he observed some mature bucks hanging with doe fawns and a few deer giving younger does attention when they intersect at food sources. However, most mature bucks are simply hitting food sources. The hottest grub is cut milo, but winter wheat is popular, too. It isn't uncommon to see multiple mature bucks feeding together in the mid-afternoon. If you still have a Kansas tag in your pocket, and solid food sources in the areas you hunt, stay after it.
In my home state, evening bed-to-feed activity has produced the best chances of success over the past week. The lack of colder temperatures has kept a lot of movement from happening until the last few minutes of daylight. However, a recent cool off should produce better earlier evening activity for the next couple days. Unfortunately, Michigan hunters will see mild temperatures this weekend, but there is always a slight chance of catching a buck tending a late-estrus doe.
Wednesday, I had a close encounter with a mature buck that was locked down with a doe fawn. Other reports from around the state confirm light chasing activity, and even some tending.
Region as a Whole
Mild temperatures continue for most of the Midwest. Daytime feeding is scattered and mostly late in the day. Despite less-than-ideal weather, there is something to be excited about if you're still trying to fill your back tag. It's called the secondary rut. Overall, it generates more hype than warranted. That said, here in the Midwest, it does occur more often than in other parts of the country. Right now, the secondary rut is in full swing and while it rarely produces the level of breeding hysteria and fast-paced action that is common in mid-November, it still makes bucks vulnerable. Take advantage of the last breeding activity while it lasts.
Across the region, seasons are winding down. The clock is ticking, but the late season can provide excellent opportunities to fill a tag for those willing to keeping grinding. Good luck to those of you who are still trying to finish strong.
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