With the rut winding down, it's largely time to revert to bed-to-feed patterns
The rut is tapering off quickly throughout the Midwest. Almost a week into December, most does are past their estrus cycles and are no longer receptive to bucks' advances. They aren't entertaining — or even tolerating — rutty chasing behavior.
Reflecting on the past month, there was a lot of great rut action. Each of our Midwest Rut Report sources expressed significant activity throughout November. Despite warmer temperatures, the first week was full of cruising and chasing activity. Around Nov. 10, cold weather washed over the region, which coincided with ramping rut behavior, and the real action began. That carried into late November before finally beginning to wane.
Now, most younger bucks are running out of gas. That said, older-age-class bucks are still searching some, but it's taking a back seat to the search for food. Soon, they'll forget about the rut in hopes of recouping weight loss and surviving winter.
Looking ahead, from a hunting perspective, it's time to focus on bed-to-feed patterns. Bone Collector's Nick Mundt is in Minnesota, and he agreed.
Things are definitely about over, as far as I can see, he said. I'm seeing the usual spikes and 6-pointers moving about, and most activity at my Bushnell Trail Cams on scrapes is does. Cold is setting in, and if you're lucky enough to have food, this will be the place to be in the upcoming weeks. Muzzleloader season is open. Picked corn will be our choice of food, but it will come with a price. Waiting this long to fill your tag in Minnesota can be painfully cold.
Of course, now that we're nearing a month from peak rut activity, it's possible that missed does are approaching 28 days since their previous cycle. Further, some doe fawns that reach the necessary weight threshold might enter estrus in the coming weeks.
There are always a few yearling does that will come into estrus this week, Mundt said. Nonetheless, we enjoy the hunt not for trophies but for the spirit of the sport and the time we get to spend together in nature. In this part of the country, hunting is a way of life, and it's hard to find manageable pieces of ground large enough to grow mature deer. It makes you realize how lucky we are to get to chase deer in prime habitat with lower pressure on large tracts of ground.
Overall, Midwestern deer hunters who are still hoping to shoot a rutting buck should make like a snowbird and head south. I hear things are beginning to rock in a lot of Southern states, especially Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and elsewhere (even Mexico). We'll check back in next week for the final Midwest Rut Report of the 2022 deer season.
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