By Ryan Miloshewski
It’s here. It’s finally here. The 2016 whitetail rut has started in Missouri and Kansas! Of course, the intensity and activity you’re seeing may be different than your friends, but that doesn’t change the tactics for the upcoming week. I was gone last week on a fishing trip to Lakey Taneycomo, so I’m a little behind, unfortunately. Take a dive into the Nov. 10th version of “Whitetail Weekly with Ryan Miloshewski” to see what to do!
-Plain and simple: get out and hunt! The temperature is changing, bringing colder weather across the midwest which will spur daytime movement. The rut happens whether it’s cool out or not. It just happens at night or when it’s cooler out. The colder temperatures will bring deer to their feet during the daytime, though.
-Calling, scents, and decoying is hot right now. Rattling, grunts, bleats, and lone buck or doe decoys is very effective in bringing a charged up buck into range. I’ve had the most success this year using grunts and bleats in combination (simulating a buck tending a doe) than anything else. Why? No idea! But give it all a try this week/weekend!
-Hunting your rut stands is paramount right now. You’ve been avoiding them for months, but now it’s time to capitalize. Stands over pinch points, funnels, or trails near doe bedding areas are key. I watched a mature buck scent check a doe feeding area on Monday, too. He came in downwind, worked a scrape, and stood there and sniffed for a minute. No does were present, apparently, and he moved on.
-Bucks are on their feet. I believe we are in the seeking and chasing phase of the rut, with some bucks locking down with does. Last weekend and early this week it seemed the younger deer were revved up. I think from today on the big boys will be active during shooting light. This is the time for all day sits, so bring a book, food, and water to your stand.
-Speaking of all day sits, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in one stand. It just means you’re in the woods all day. If you aren’t seeing the volume of cruising bucks in one stand, silently move to another one. It helps break up the monotony and keeps you sharp. And could put you on deer you weren’t seeing at your other sit!
-Trail cameras–you knew I’d say this–are vitally important yet again. This time look for certain behaviors. Getting pictures of a single buck and doe (breeding)? Seeing mostly bucks (seeking)? Getting pictures of only the front or back ends of deer (chasing)? Take all of this into consideration when trying to determine what stage of the rut the deer herd is in on your property.
-The changing photoperiod is what triggers the rut. Temperature, moon phase, etc has little effect on the timing. The lessening of daylight spurs on hormone production in bucks and does, and THAT is what causes the most wonderful time of year.
-The median date for conception of fawns above the Mason-Dixon Line in the U.S. is November 15th, give or take a few days. Every year. There’s no such thing as a late or early rut, just a difference in intensity every year.
-The vomeronasal organ located in the roof of a buck’s mouth allows them to analyze urine. That’s why you see bucks doing the Flehmen sniff, or lip curling. It floods this organ with scent, and they can tell if a doe is ready to breed or near it.
-Bucks lose up to 35% of body mass during the rut.
-Get out and hunt! Firearms season opens Saturday, November 12th in Missouri, and bowhunting continues in Kansas for me. It’s a beautiful time of year, and the woods are alive with activity. If you aren’t hunting right now, you’re truly missing out on all the nuances that occur in November. It’s a turbulent, changing time for deer and other animals as they breed and prepare for winter, but it’s also magical. You’ll see things you don’t normally see this time of year, and that makes it all worth it!
Quote of the Week: “It has always seemed to me that any man is a better man for being a hunter. This sport confers a certain constant alertness, and develops a certain ruggedness of character….moreover, it allies us to the pioneer past. In a deep sense, this great land of ours was won for us by hunters.”–Archibald Rutledge
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