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.
I’m going to report slightly out of my North Central zone for a bit today, with apologies to Dave Draper. My friend and fellow outdoor writer Zeke Pipher shot a huge buck near his home in Nebraska. Zeke, who walks the walk when it comes to getting his family outdoors, took his son Aidan with him for an afternoon hunt on a farm near the Platte River this week. The father-son pair was entertained by squirrels and two raccoon families while they waited for deer to arrive.
The whitetails did their part, and the Pipher boys watched at least 20 deer work their way toward a feeding area on the farm. As they watched this pretty 10 point, he not only made a scrape and worked a licking branch, he walked within bow range. Wide-eyed Aidan asked Zeke “Can we shoot him dad? Can we?!?” Zeke’s answer was affirmative, and dad made a great shot. Zeke reports that the father/son team will be butchering the deer together as well. Great job, guys!
Elsewhere across the region, buck activity has been an interesting mix. A good friend in Illinois arrowed the largest buck of his life, a 170-class 10-point that’s as pretty a typical buck as I’ve seen. That deer charged into a group of does and smaller bucks near my friend’s stand…all of them clustered near a waterhole in the 80-degree heat. Another contact, this one an Iowa whitetail guide, told me a client tagged a 150-class buck that fed among a dozen other deer in a nearby food plot. These deer are clearly not bothered by the balmy temps that have lingered here for over a week.
In Minnesota and Wisconsin, the summer-like weather has whitetails in somewhat of a funk, with most hunters reporting slow deer movement, mostly at the tail-end of daylight. However, during a weekend of scouting and stand-hanging, I did notice fresh scrapes and rubs in most of my hunting areas. Even if this sign is made at night it’s a good indicator of the presence (and mood) of good bucks in the territory. I also expect action to pick up with a rain system headed this way, and cooler temps (a 50-degree high) forecast for later this week. Any time we experience a 30-degree drop in temperature, whitetails typically respond with enthusiasm, so I expect more success stories in the days ahead!