Midwest Rut Report: Hunt the Coming October Cold Front

Image by Tom Tietz

The rut is still several weeks out. While it certainly isn’t time to burn those rut vacay days, don’t miss this weekend’s incoming cold front

The science says the October lull isn’t real, and that daylight deer movement (mature bucks included) gradually increases throughout summer, early fall, peaks during the rut, and tapers off during the late season. But the deer activity has been poor this season, especially the last few weeks. And dadgumit if I don’t want to jump on the always-popular October lull bandwagon.

But I know better. The truth is that deer are still moving. Whitetails are holding hard and fast to the timber right now. Acorns are aplenty throughout much of the Midwest, and deer are slurping them up with gusto. Hunters who have concentrated pockets of oaks are in the game. Those who have dispersed oaks, or none at all, are having a rough go of it.

Stagnant temperatures in the high 70s and 80s don’t help things either. Some midwestern states experienced a cold front this week, and others will see a major drop in temperatures over the weekend. Check the forecast for your area and focus on the day prior to the front, as well as the two days after it passes. These are generally the best times to hunt.

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Joe Ogden, co-owner of Indian Hill Outfitters in Missouri, says things are just now getting right. “Just seems to be getting started around here,” he said. “We got some rain. Temps are much lower this week. I think the bucks will be getting more active.”

Over in Michigan, veteran deer hunter and Realtree.com contributor Tyler Ridenour echoes this sentiment. “It's been unseasonably warm, but we do have the first significant cold front of the season on the way this weekend,” he said. “Rubs and scrapes have ramped up a lot in the past week. Daylight activity has been limited to the first and last hour of the day. It's a very good mast crop year in my area of the lower peninsula, lots of white and bur oak acorns. That's the primary food source right now, as well as alfalfa.”

As for me, while I live in Kentucky, I’m fixated on Ohio right now. Recently, I missed a 20-inch wide 10-pointer thanks to a faulty crossbow that’s since been … dealt with. Fortunately, it was the smallest and youngest of the three target bucks I’m after. And a nice cold front is pushing through Friday night and Saturday morning. Anyone chasing whitetails in the Buckeye State should have an excellent weekend of deer hunting ahead of them.

All in all, while the rut is still about three weeks away, don’t sleep on these October cold fronts. We’re entering the best part of the pre-rut, and those who have a bed-to-feed pattern on a target buck can certainly fill a tag under the right conditions. Pair rising testosterone levels with a 15- to 20-degree temperature drop this weekend, and that’s a recipe for big racks and backstraps.

Longtime Realtree.com contributor Josh Honeycutt is a guy who knows big deer and makes a full-time living writing about them. He hails from Kentucky but hunts all over the Midwest.

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