Rut Reporter Scott Bestul is a Field & Stream’s Whitetails columnist and writes for the website’s Whitetail365 blog. The Minnesotan has taken 13 Pope & Young-class whitetails and has hunted, guided for, and studied deer in the north-central region all his life. States covered: IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, WI.
Overall activity: Warmer temps, with the added hurdle of humidity, are kick-starting this week. This has resulted in spotty action; Wisconsin hunters have reported good-to-excellent action in some areas and Illinois archers tell me some of the big boys are well into the cruising phase. Meanwhile, Minnesota whitetailers are largely a frustrated bunch, and I had a report from Iowa this week of a bachelor group of bucks still traveling together.
Fighting:** Sparring activity is morphing into more serious business; a Wisconsin contact told me an early-morning rattling session brought two bucks running from different directions. The big one was heading in to my friend’s wheelhouse when he spotted the smaller buck and gave chase. Oh the things that can save their hides sometimes!
Rub making: Rub activity is soon to peak across the Midwest. Look for some of the largest rubs of the season to be made in the coming days, as mature bucks lay down some of the most exciting sign before peak breeding. An Indiana hunter reports seeing the largest rub of his life on family property he knows intimately and hunts often.
Scrape making: This too will be building to a climax. Saturday I pulled a trail camera I’d placed at a mock scrape one week ago. The Primos cam captured 7 different bucks, some of which made multiple visits to the fake, which I’d doused with simple deer urine. The visual appeal of a scrape is hard to beat right now…I’d urge anyone setting up to make a mock within bow range of their stand. It will pull in bucks!
Chasing: We’re still not to the onset of hardcore chasing, but that will change within the next 7 days. Expect to see bucks badgering does soon. Imitate such action by making tending grunts that goad a buck into checking out your location.
Daytime movement:** High humidity and mild temps have put a literal damper on full-bore daytime movement. A major blast of wind is expected to hit the region tomorrow and Wednesday, followed by a drop in temperatures. This should be the fuse that ignites daytime buck travels. Estrous signs: Two reports of does being tended by bucks this weekend in Wisconsin. These early breeders will send rutting activity through the roof in an area. If it hasn’t happened in your region yet (most haven’t), get ready…
X Factor:** I’m convinced the front hitting the Midwest is going to kick-start action in a big way. Winds of up to 50 mph are predicted, and night-time temps bottoming out in the 20’s should be here within 48 hours. My take? Hold on to your hats…things are going to be very exciting in the days ahead!