Now is the time to get after that Midwest rutting whitetail
The rut is here, and with it, the madness that hunters hope for. Personally, I’m seeing a lot of movement on my Ohio and Indiana trail cameras. Bucks are seeking, and in some cases, chasing. Of course, actual breeding is ramping up throughout the region, too.
Realtree contributor Darron McDougal is bouncing between South Dakota and Wisconsin. “Things are just reaching the turning point,” he said. “Lots of scrapes mostly being worked by young bucks where I hunt in Wisconsin. I’m in South Dakota now. Deer are bedding down by mid-morning. Expecting daytime movement to begin increasing.”
He’s not been seeing mature bucks on their feet yet. He’s even rattled with no responses. That should start changing soon.
Long-time Grandview Outdoors Editor Dave Maas is in South Dakota and Wisconsin, too. “Certainly, seeing more daylight buck and doe activity now that October has turned to November,” he said. “It helps, too, that temperatures have remained cold for a week. I’m seeing a transition from bucks visiting scrapes to chasing.”
Josh Raley with The Southern Way Hunting Podcast is also in Wisconsin. “Bucks are hitting scrapes hard and the little bucks are really on their feet,” Raley said. “We’re seeing small bucks run does, but nothing receptive yet. The big boys are still a bit spotty but are hitting scrapes near doe bedding in daylight. We’ve also seen bucks being pretty responsive to calling right now.”
Seasoned deer hunter, Scott Hicks, is hunting in Illinois. “It started to pick up in the last 24 hours,” he said. “I had a bruiser 7-year-old bully buck at 28 yards last night bumping four does. Between me and my partner, we saw 16 bucks [two studs and the rest were basket heads]. All out looking for love.”
HuntStand’s Josh Dahlke is archery hunting in central Minnesota and western Wisconsin. “Between time in the stand and monitoring trail cam photos, it’s obviously game on,” he said. “The HuntStand Whitetail Activity Forecast has been spot-on with peak movement times. Daylight buck activity has increased substantially — even with mature bucks — with solid movement during late mornings and early evenings. I’m also starting to see all-day movements increasing steadily, especially near bedding areas. Bucks are still regularly visiting scrapes. I haven’t witnessed any obvious signs of does in estrous, but it’s just a matter of time until that special scent is prevalent in the air.”
Outdoor writer Alex Gyllstrom reports from western Illinois and northern Missouri. “The bucks are starting to get more active,” he noted. “Scrapes have been very active as well. I haven’t seen any chasing, but bucks are laying down more sign and showing a bit more aggression.
“My focus for mornings over the next week is going to be downwind of bedding and primary scrapes in thick cover,” he continued. “For afternoons, hunt good transitional cover downwind of food sources. Bucks are starting to check doe groups more frequently, getting back to bed a little later, and leaving bedding a little earlier for these checks.”
Buckventures’ Jeff Danker is hunting Kansas and Oklahoma. “The dip in the weather has made deer go to food a little more and cameras are lighting up both on feeders and scrapes,” Danker said. “In Kansas, the bucks are definitely moving around covering ground. New bucks are showing up daily. Hot weather is hitting across the Midwest, though, and I’m sure daylight activity will take a dive.”
All things considered, now is the time to get after these whitetails. Mature rutting bucks are easier to tag just before the peak of breeding occurs. So, get out there and get it done.
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