Some bucks might be locked down with does, but it's still time to be in the woods
It's mid-November, and the rut is rocking. As a Midwestern and Southeastern deer hunter, I hunt Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. This weekend, I watched seven buck-and-doe breeding pairs. I'd say that means the lockdown is occurring now.
Others are seeing the same or slightly different activity. Kenneth Lancaster of The Given Right said his Oklahoma and Missouri trail cameras are lighting up with daylight movement. He also said it's just getting good in Kansas.
The rut just really seemed to kick off, he said. The cold snap we had proved to get the mature deer on their feet. It slowed down a bit, but should kick back off with the front.
Outdoor writer Tyler Ridenour has also been in Kansas. He's hunting a unit in the western region of the state and said the rut is picking up rapidly. Bucks have been cruising, chasing, and checking does all hours of the day, he said. Right now, lockdown is starting to set in, and I'd expect to see less activity over the next couple of days. Be patient, because in my experience, when hunting this part of the country, mature bucks start to cover even more ground and become even more vulnerable after the lockdown.
He also said food isn't a major factor. Instead, focus on cover.
Drought conditions have caused cover to be greatly reduced this fall, so if you can find a CRP field that hasn't been cut, you'll likely find a mature buck tending a doe, he said.
Realtree contributor Darron McDougal recently bagged a buck in South Dakota. There were two equally good bucks with one smaller buck, a doe and fawn, and about four mule deer all in a group, he said. Just feeding. No rut behavior at all. My buck was tooth-aged by a biologist at 5 1/2 years old.
SpyPoint's Trent Marsh hails from Indiana and has recently talked to other hunters in Michigan. He said daytime activity should be on fire right now. Instead, it's been pretty dead.
Last, in Wisconsin, things are looking up and down, depending on the location. Hunting podcaster Bruce Hutcheon says that in LaValle, in the southwestern part of the state, everything is pretty quiet. Recent warm weather shut down movement, but it should pick back up soon. That said, he's heard things are rocking in Missouri, North Dakota, and Nebraska.
The Hunting Beast's Dan Infalt is in the southeastern portion of Wisconsin, and he said bucks are cruising and chasing. I've been seeing bucks all day long, with late morning and midday movement exceptional, he said. I have had bucks under me every day this week. Cameras are also picking up great activity. Me and the cameras are set up near known doe bedding (areas).
Overall, it's time to be out there. The rut is happening right now and will continue to be good for the next seven to 10 days — perhaps longer. Be out there when that monster walks by.