The bucks are in the early stages of the rut and any archer who has been on the sidelines had best get serious. As with any year’s rut, the early days are unpredictable; some bucks are ready to go, some are not. And as with any season, some areas see heavier rut activity early; some later. But this is the first week we’ve heard of bucks actively checking out does. It will only get better.
Field & Stream magazine publishes an annual guide to the best days of rut. The first day was this past Wednesday; the next big day is next Friday, the 2nd. And on into the next few weeks. Some may quibble on the exact dates and some may wonder at the accuracy, but the bottom line is that we’re heading into what is arguably the best time to take a big buck.
Bucks will increase their wanderings in the next weeks. They will forego food and sleep. They will be ceaseless in their pursuit of does. And the big boys, the heavy-antlered bucks that normally are nocturnal most of the time will, in the upcoming weeks, wander during daylight hours.
You can pick half a dozen good tactics for the rut, from rattling horns to scent drippers to mock scrapes and on and on. But you’d better, if you have the goal of taking a good buck, make plans now and get into the woods. The rut is warming up and it will get hotter. The time is now!
If deer hunting does not stir you, then perhaps upland or waterfowl hunting does. Conditions for both are improving. There are still a surprising number of wood ducks in the area (or were by early this past week; weather will always determine which stay and which move on) and mallards are also resting up. Northern ducks have been moving through, but the big push will be driven by weather; the windier, the better.
Grouse hunting has improved markedly this past week, as leaves are mostly down and birds are starting to look for clover. Clover is important as a food source and also because it grows in more open areas. Birds flushed there often present better shots.
Fishing is still good, but not great. Muskies have slowed but big ones will remain active until ice up. The key is big offerings moved very, very slowly. Now is the time that large suckers rigged under oversized bobbers can be deadly.
Walleyes and perch have shown signs of life of late, often in shallower water. As with muskies, slow moving lures are the key.
All in all, there is a lot going on but the parade is being led by the whitetail bucks as they near the key 10 to 14 days of the entire year.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.