Morning hunts have had the best action, but a cold front is on the way and should change things for the better
The past week's temperatures have hit near-record highs several times, and the forecast is for much of the same over the next few days. The heat has made for a painfully slow start to November here in the Mid-South. I had clients in for a four-day bow hunt in western Kentucky last week, and we struggled to see many whitetails at all, despite sitting daylight to dark in prime pinch-point stands that have not been hunted this season. There were plenty of deer around, and new buck sign, especially scrapes, was appearing by the day. But my cell cameras proved that most of the activity was happening at night — and even that seemed slower than expected for the time of year.
Our best sits happened deep in the hardwood timber, and morning hunts were far and away the most productive. Yesterday morning (Nov. 6), which was a touch cooler, produced the most action of the week, with my buddy and I hunting a couple hundred yards apart in a block of woods surrounded by big bean fields. Young bucks were cruising and bumping does for the first several hours of daylight, though the action waned quickly once the sun got warm.
Some mature deer are moving, too, and I saw signs that they're even starting to lock down with does. I saw a heavy 4-year-old+ 8-pointer standing in a roadside field with a doe the other evening as I was enroute to pick clients up from their stands. He wasn't chasing her, and she was feeding contentedly. We had two or three nice bucks cross the road in front of us before daylight a couple times, and my cell cameras are picking up a few mature bucks moving around at night.
Farther east, in Virginia, Realtree contributor Mike Hanback says the deer movement has been pretty good, despite the weather. The hard scraping and chasing is just starting, in spite of the heat, Hanback says. More mature bucks are starting to show in daylight on cameras. There's a small cool front moving in midweek, so the next seven days could be the best of this year's rut.
Down in Georgia, Realtree's Tyler Jordan also says the heat is making it tough, but a few big deer have been moving. "The heat is killing us," he says, "but I have seen some big ones still on their feet in daylight. Not many, but some. Scrapes have really dried up in the past five to seven days, and I'm banking on the cooler weather later this week to kick things off again. Starting Wednesday, I'm going to sit all day in a treestand."
Indeed, a cold front is scheduled to break the warm spell starting Friday, and the timing couldn't be much better, as Tennessee's muzzleloader season is going full-swing and Kentucky's gun opener starts Saturday. Though some bucks will no doubt be locked down with does, I think the temperature jolt combined with hunting pressure will be enough to put deer on their feet all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Elsewhere in the region, in places like far southwestern Tennessee and northern Mississippi, you can expect to see an uptick in buck sign and pre-rut activity in the coming days. Thanksgiving into the first couple weeks of December kick off the peak breeding in that part of the region and points farther south along the Mississippi River Delta.
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