BY Josh Honeycutt October 28, 2020
As November nears, so does the whitetail rut. Deer and deer hunters alike are feeling it, and it won’t be long before the woods are full of madness. Until then, we’ll enjoy the morsels of solid hunting opportunities that come our way. Don’t underestimate the final days of October.
In Minnesota, Bone Collector co-host Nick Mundt is seeing the early signs of the coming breeding season. “Youngsters are cruising around, but not much for big buck movement on my 12 cameras,” Mundt says. “I have a few visiting scrapes at night, but no daylight [activity] yet.”
Midwest Whitetail’s Josh Sparks lives and hunts in Iowa, and he’s seeing some pretty good activity. Daylight mature deer movement has increased significantly in the past week. Early-afternoon and late-morning action is the best it’s been all season.
“I’m seeing target bucks working the scrape lines and posts I set this past summer,” Sparks says. “I’m also noticing more distance traveled, resulting in more scrapes being hit by individual bucks. For example, our top target was predominately sticking to two bedding areas and one food plot, but now is ramping up that activity, presumably searching for that first hot doe.”
They’ve had great weather in the Hawkeye State, which has certainly played a role in getting deer on their feet. Don’t worry, it isn’t an “early rut” this year (or any year), though. Sparks says there might be a mature doe or two that’s already entered estrus, but 95% of the gals are still snubbing the boys. For the next little bit, he says they’ll focus on scrape lines near micro-plots and staging areas.
In southern Indiana, Realtree pro staffer Carl Drake is also seeing an increase in activity, especially with the last front that pushed through.
“More scrapes are popping up,” Drake says. “We’re getting a lot more daylight pictures of mature deer, and seeing a little pushing and sparring with younger deer. Still a few small groups of young bucks together, but the mature deer are flying solo. I have not seen any young bucks bumping does yet, but it’s just a matter of days.”
Scooting over to Missouri, Joe Ogden with Indian Hill Outfitters is seeing a little better rut activity. Younger deer are pushing does, and big bucks are hitting scrapes in daylight. He sent me a trail camera photo of an absolute pig in a massive community scrape, and the giant was rub-urinating like a boss.
Heading west, The Given Right’s Kenneth Lancaster recently spent some time in Kansas. He says these cooler temperatures have the bucks on their feet throughout the Midwest.
“The mature deer seem to be feeling it and are starting to check scrapes and work licking branches,” Lancaster says. “All in all, it looks like we are going to have an awesome Halloween week, and into November.”
Personally, I’ve already filled my Kentucky buck tag. Now, I’m looking to the Buckeye State, and have several targets on trail cameras. Daylight activity is picking up, and mature deer are appearing in daylight where they previously weren’t.
The weather is great right now, too. We have cooler temperatures, and another front is easing across the region right now. All things considered, given the late-October timeframe, and an incoming front, this weekend looks pretty good.
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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.