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The Midwest Rut Is Over and Daylight Movement Is Minimal

White-Tailed Deer


The Midwest Rut Is Over and Daylight Movement Is Minimal

Posted 2023-12-12  by  Josh Honeycutt

It’s time to recalibrate minds and tactics for the late season

The rut is long gone. So, if you came here hoping for some good news on the Midwestern rut, it isn’t coming. Rutting activity is tapering off to nothing. The Midwest rut is over. For many hunters, it wasn’t particularly awesome this year, either.

Tim Andrus, host of Rush Outdoors, bounced around different parts of the country this season. He says that the deer hunting hasn’t been as good due to unseasonably warm temperatures.

“Mother Nature hasn't done us any favors this fall. At least, not for me,” Andrus said. “My last hunt was in Illinois, where temps were high 50s to low 60s, and deer movement was slow. Even trail cams went dark through this, which made for a tough hunt. Two bucks that I killed this year were killed in temps over 65 degrees. Crazy year, for sure.”

As for myself, it was an OK rut, but not a great one. Sure, I saw some deer chasing. I even noticed some bucks tending does. Even saw several mature ones from the stand. Even so, the rut has felt… muted for some reason.

Of course, that means the late season is upon us, and this now becomes a general deer activity report. Looking at the region as a whole, the late season is here. Quit praying for an estrus doe to drag a buck by. Start focusing on good food.

It’s true that a missed doe might re-enter estrus. A doe fawn might even hit the weight limit to enter estrus. But these are anomalies to capitalize on if you see them. These aren’t primary cards to play.

Currently, casting a region-wide net, we’re seeing cold to moderate temperatures. The Upper Midwest is fairly frigid right now. The lower parts of the region are noticeably warmer.

Regarding deer activity, my trail cameras in Ohio and Indiana show mostly nighttime movement — that is, unless close to bedding areas or really hot food sources. Mornings and afternoons are producing some daytime action, but it is mostly does, fawns, and bucks 2 ½ and younger. I’m not seeing much of anything that’s 3 ½-plus-years-old on the hoof in daylight.

Those who plan to hunt this week should set up close to bedding areas, but not in them, in hopes of catching afternoon movement early enough to intercept before dark. If deer seem to be getting up earlier near you, consider hunting staging areas and transition routes that are slightly further from the beds, but not all the way at the food. This might just help you land that late-season buck in the truck.


  • Day Activity

  • Rubbing

  • Scraping

  • Fighting

  • Seeking

  • Chasing

  • Breeding

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