Every week this fall, I’ll be providing updates on whitetail buck movement for the entire country. These reports are based on intel from whitetailers in each region and my own observations as a traveling deer hunter. For more info like this, subscribe to the Rut Fresh Radio Podcast and Whitetail Weekly Newsletter. Rut Fresh Reports are powered by onX.
As I said in last week’s Rut Fresh Report, the end of October is a good time to be in the whitetail woods for a bunch of reasons. Sign-making is about to peak. Decoying, rattling, and grunting will work. And big bucks will be looking for the first does coming into estrus.
This is what’s referred to as the “seeking phase” of the rut. If you want to put daylight buck movement on a scale of 1 to 10, then last week was a 7, this week will be an 8, and the next two weeks will be 10s.
The seeking phase is what occurs right before the rut is about to bust open. Sure, you’ll see some immature bucks moving at midday and attempting to breed, but most everything over 3.5 years old is still moving in the crepuscular periods right now.
That’ll all change between now and our next Rut Fresh Report. At this time next week, mature, homebody bucks are going to start dispersing and walking around at midday. They’ll abandon normal routines and be more killable than at any other point in the season. So, while we’re not at that 10 out of 10 quite yet, the last few days of October and first few days of November are still a stellar time to hunt. Take advantage of it and know that the best is yet to come.
Here’s some reading material that’ll help you kill a buck in the next week.
And here’s how each region breaks down for the coming week.
Sorry, East Coast whitetailers. For what seems like the fifth week in a row, you won’t be getting any kind of a cold front. The few cold fronts that have rolled through the East this fall have mostly occurred in the middle of the week, which isn’t great timing. That’s OK, though. Weather can positively impact deer movement this time of year, but it doesn’t have as much influence in the other direction. Just because highs will be in the 60s doesn’t mean mature bucks won’t be on their feet at the beginning and end of shooting light.
If you’re doing some in-season scouting this weekend, look for fresh scrapes in cover. As you heard on this week’s episode of Rut Fresh Radio, sign-making is in full swing across the region. Bucks will be checking their favorite scrapes almost daily for the next week, especially with rain showers moving in over the weekend. As the precip washes away their literal pissing contests, they’ll be more motivated than ever to freshen up their scrapes.
Similar to the rest of the country, there will be scattered thunderstorms Friday through Monday in the South. Some parts are getting a micro cold front with the onset of this rain, but most areas won’t feel a drop in temperature at all. Regardless, there should be winds to shake loose the last remaining acorns, persimmons, and other aerial foods. If your region’s best food source hasn’t hit the ground yet, it will by early next week. Pull up those onX pins you’ve dropped on oak flats and hunt them right now—they’ll likely have the best activity you’ll see all fall.
If your herd has a biological clock similar to Midwest whitetails, then this weekend means a big increase in sign-making and huntable morning movement. But if your herd is more similar to whitetails in the Deep South, then expect continued nocturnal movement for the rest of the month.
There’s some good news and bad news for Midwestern whitetail hunters. The bad news is that the weather looks monotonous for the next week—lots of days with highs in the low 60s and lows in the mid 40s. That consistency in temps also means consistency in wind direction. So, be aware that there will be an unusual amount of hunts coming up with winds from the south. Plan ahead and make yourself mobile so you’re not burning out stands before the best hunting of the year.
And now to the good news! This forecast of sunny days with consistent temps means farmers will be wrapping up harvest on time this year—many are likely finishing as you read this. Standing corn is the bane of rut hunters, especially for those who hunt in ag country. With fields picked well in advance of the breeding phase, that means bucks will be plenty visible this November.
That cold front in the West that I was raving about last week really delivered. My trail cameras in Montana saw increased activity over the last week from a combination of natural pre-rut patterns and the drop in mercury. Some parts of the region got more than the weatherman predicted, though, seeing temps in the teens and nearly a foot of snow.
If you hunt in one of those places, you likely saw deer congregate around hay yards and pivots. Some of those deer will leave the ag fields now that temps are normal and the snow has melted, but many of the doe groups will stay there for the rest of fall. If that’s the case where you hunt, then plan on monitoring those herds over the next few weeks. An immature buck or two will start harassing those does this weekend, and the big fellas won’t be too far behind.
Feature image via Matt Hansen.