The excitement of the rifle hunt has waned by now, replaced by grim determination to finish it off if tags still need to be filled. It has been a season of mild weather, day after day in the early stanzas, a bit of chill late week. But it lacked the wild weather of snow and storm that is often the case. The old timers will say the seasons ain’t what they used to be, and they’re probably right in that.
By this last weekend, the bucks will have fizzled out in their chase for does and now their urges turn to feed, lots of it, to replenish the stores run down in the rut. They need food, and rich food at that, and for that acorns still are king. Deer will search out acorns all season but never more than now, when other food sources are low. Find acorns and you’ll often find deer.
Bucks will move more at the fringes of the day, dawn and dusk, but they do need food and will often venture out during mid-day. Rifle hunters have only a day or two to hunt, but muzzleloading season is upon us soon and those hunters often pick up bucks during the middle of the day. If they do, chances are those bucks are on the move for food. The rut is over and it’s time to concentrate on food sources and heavy cover for bucks.
The thick cover close to food is where bucks usually retire to after a heavy feed. The best way is to avoid pushing deer out of cover but rather to set up on runways that lead to and from the thick stuff.
Late hunting, whether for deer or grouse, is often a matter of weather. Approaching storms, and we can get them now, will have game on the move for a last feed before they sit tight under heavy weather. And if we get a big storm, one that puts deer in cover for a lengthy time, the hours after the storm when deer move to feed can be a great time to tag a deer.
The cold weather of a few weeks ago had ice fishing looking certain; now the mild week has put that on the back burner. It will take some hard freezes to lock the lakes up and that does not look imminent.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.