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 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 does, 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 how each region breaks down for the coming week.
East 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. 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 Greg Litzinger told me 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 today and tomorrow. As the precip washes away their literal pissing contests, they’ll be more motivated than ever to freshen up their scrapes.
South Similar to the rest of the country, this is supposed to be a stormy weekend in the South. Disappointingly, this doesn’t mean much of a drop in temps, but it does mean lots of wind 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 Sunday.
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.
Midwest Sorry, Midwesterners: See the first report above. Like your neighbors to the east, the mild weather with scattered showers will be a theme for this final weekend of October. It’s bad news for states that have already had a wet fall, delaying corn harvest even more. If the precip continues, expect combines to be sidelined well into the rut. While I don’t put a lot of stock into the moon or weather changing the rut, I sure as hell believe that standing corn does. If November arrives and your area is still in harvest mode, make sure you read John Eberhart’s advice for hunting standing corn.
For those not dealing with uncut ag fields, the seeking phase should be rocking this weekend. Halloween is a famously favorite holiday among Midwest whitetail hunters, so plan on finding a fresh scrape this Sunday and waiting for a monster to show up.
West Congrats to those left of the Missouri River: Unlike the rest of the country, you’ll see a significant cold front this weekend. In some portions of the West there’ll be a 40-degree difference between Friday’s high and Saturday’s low. If you’ve been struggling to find a mature buck over these last 10 days, there’s a good chance that’ll change on Saturday.
This doesn’t mean a 5.5-year-old buck will be patrolling a wide-open hay field at lunchtime, but he will be more visible this weekend than he’s been at any point over the last month. To find a mature whitetail during this well-timed cold snap, set up on draws in the morning that allow you to glass as much cover as possible. For the evening, use onX to locate a nearby food source with does and look for a buck to enter with the wind in his face.
Feature image via Matt Hansen.