Rut Fresh Report: 10/31

Rut Fresh Report: 10/31

For many serious big buck hunters, right now is the favorite time of year to tag a mature whitetail—even though we’re still a week out from the best rutting activity. The reason is that these next couple days are when those homebody bucks will get out of their beds a little sooner in the evening, freshen their favorite scrapes in daylight, and start checking doe groups for those first willing females.

Last week, those wise bucks would have still been following their nocturnal tendencies. Next week, they might be off in the next county harassing does. This week, though, they’ll extend those morning and evening walkabouts just a little bit longer, giving opportunistic bowhunters a chance.

If you want an shot at one of those deer that you’ve only seen in nighttime trail cam pictures, then focus on staging areas near bedding, hot food sources where does will congregate, and fresh sign that will only be relevant for a few more days.

Here’s how each region breaks down for the coming week.

East
A well-timed cold front on November 1 is going to do wonders for buck activity this weekend. Looking at the extended forecast, this might be the only significant cold front until mid-November for the East, so take advantage of this drop in the mercury.

Finding the hot food source is tough right now with lots of acorns on the ground and plenty of standing crops. If you’re unsure what the deer are hitting, look for fresh sign. My contacts in the East said this week has been peak scraping activity, so look for opened-up scrape lines that follow oak ridges or lead to agriculture. We’re still a few days away from seeing big bucks moving at midday, so don’t torture yourself with all-day sits quite yet. Save those for next week. 

South
The rut in the South is all over the map this time of year. While you have deer in states like Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Arkansas that follow a more Midwestern rut, with bucks that are seeking, herds in places like Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida are well behind. They won’t rut for another month.

If you hunt a place that has deer in all phases of the rut and aren’t sure how to target them, make food your focus. You can’t go wrong by hunting food sources during any phase of the rut, and the South is no exception.

Midwest
Like the East, the Midwest has a cold front arriving tomorrow, and that chilly weather should stick around for a few days. Hunters in this region should get really aggressive. Decoying, rattling, grunting, and the use of scents are all on the table for these next five days.

If you’re using a decoy, select for a buck that has one antler. Bucks will be looking for a fight, and the visual of a one-antlered punk will draw in bucks that are between the seeking and chasing phase. If you’re using scents, a combination of rutting buck and estrus doe are the way to go.

Much of the Midwest will have a late harvest this year, which makes hunting Big Ag a challenge. If you’re struggling to locate bucks this weekend, then take advantage of the fresh snow to see where deer are entering and exiting fields.

West
While hunters love cold fronts, there’s a tipping point where the brutal temps become uncomfortable for man and beast. With record-breaking lows across parts of the West, this return to normal weather for early November will be a welcomed change. Hunters should have a good weekend afield with deer movement increasing each day.

With rifle seasons open in most of the region, pressured deer will surely be found in thick cover where they can get away from hunters and the cold. If the whitetails in your area haven’t been bothered, then refer to the Midwestern tactics covered above. Sign making should be at an all-time high, and mature bucks will be checking their scrapes often over these next few days.

Want more rut reports like this? Make sure you subscribe to the Wired to Hunt podcast, where each Wednesday in the fall we release a Rut Fresh episode breaking down buck movement across the country.

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