19. November 2008 13:45
This has been one of the strangest years for the rut that I can remember. It seems like I have been seeing bucks chasing does for the last month. But never did see that frenzied few days when if a doe walked by, there were 4 or 5 bucks dogging her. Or you drive past an open field and there were deer chasing one another all over it. This usually happens around the 10th of November. Almost everyone I talk to has a similar story this year. Not really sure of the reason, but I have a few theories.
My first theory has to do with the amount of standing corn still in the fields. With all of the rain we had this spring and early summer the farmers got the corn in really late this year. Especially in the creek bottoms near my farm, it was just too wet to get on the ground to plant. That made the harvest really late and we have had a wet fall too. So there are thousands of acres of unpicked corn in the bottoms around my hunting property. This allows the deer to hide in the corn and the only reason they need to leave it is to get a drink. They have all the cover they need and food is everywhere around them. Much of the breeding may have taken place right in the corn fields where the does were living, and we never would have seen it.
My second theory has to do with the weather. I started seeing bucks chasing does during a cold snap on the weekend of Oct. 25th. I think the cold weather really got the bucks moving and in the mood. But then after a few days it warmed up again to near 80* temps. This shut down a lot of the activity or moved it until after dark when it was a little cooler. My buck sightings really took a hit after the weather warmed up. Then we had another cold snap, but along with the colder temps came very strong winds. The wind blew for many days in a row without letting up. I believe the deer head for heavy cover during strong winds because their defenses are somewhat useless during windy days. Everything in the woods is moving, making it hard for them to pick out danger with their eyes. Their hearing is not what it would be in a still woods. And they cannot trust their noses with the swirling winds. So where do they go? Back to the corn fields.
I also feel this weather stretched out the breeding longer than it normally would have been, eliminating the frenzied chasing of the peak of the breeding period. Some of the does may have come into estrous during the first cold snap and got bred then. Then a few were still coming in during the warm weather, but most of the chasing and activity was going on at night, when the temps. were cooler and more comfortable for the does. Then another round of does came into heat during the second cold snap, but since it was so windy those days, most of the activity took place in very thick cover or in the standing corn.
Now don’t get me wrong, I did see rut activity. Just not the kind I am used to seeing in that area. This year there would be one buck chasing a doe or a small buck in the food plot checking them out by himself. Heck I would even see does in the food plots for long periods of time without a buck even coming to check them out. There is usually a few days where the deer are running around all day long chasing and breeding, and packs of bucks chasing the hot does. I hunted a lot of days the past few weeks and it just did not happen.
12. November 2008 15:06
I recently had the opportunity to spend 6 days with Jim Broberg, owner of Pine Ridge Archery, and several of his family members and friends at their home in Jo Daviess County, IL. All I can say is WOW, what a great time! Jim's wife prepared a outstanding meals for everyone after some long days on stand and I can't thank her enough for the hospitality. Marie is totally organized and the meals were fantastic - nobody went hungry, that's for sure.
The first three days of hunting were tough as the warm weather set in during the beginning of the rut. I decided after not seeing much activity those first few days that I would head home for awhile and wait until some colder weather to move in before heading back out. Sure enough, after going home for 3 days colder weather finally moved in and I was back and ready for action.
Our bows and arrows were ready to perform, but were we??
Here is some of the great food prepared by Marie, we were fed very well!!
Ron and his son David Bakken talking deer hunting. David just got back from the Campbell Outdoor Challenge where Team Pine Ridge took 2nd place with the largest archery harvest ever filmed in the history of the event. Watch for them on Versus starting in January 2009, you won't want to miss this!
Brian Bychowski and Arnie getting back from a hunt talking about what was seen and already working on a plan where to hunt the next morning.
Jim and his daughter Kristen. Guys let me tell you - this girl can hunt! I have to say I had a blast with her & Scott tracking the buck that I shot on the last night out. (I am saving that story for a few days - I will post soon)
I had to save the best for last - here is a photo of Scott's new outfit that he plans of wearing to pick up chicks! :) - Of course I am kidding.
Over the course of the week we managed to harvest two does and 1 buck despite the adverse weather conditions. We had many sightings of good bucks and some really close encoutners but just couldn't quite pull it together. All of us had a great time. The rut is still in full swing here in Illinois so if you can get out in the woods now is the time!