Rut Report Nov. 10: Biggest Buck Spotted

Day No. 10 of a 13-day rut hunt is in the books. Discover what North American Hunter Senior Managing Editor Dave Maas learned during his day in South Dakota.

This morning (November 9), my wife and son spotted the biggest buck (a 140- to 150-class 5x4) we have on scouting cams, and he was trailing/tending a doe, with a couple of fawns lagging behind the buck. I’m not sure where this buck has been since I began hunting here on my South Dakota vacation, because we never saw him cruising solo as we did so many of our other bucks. That said, I’m glad to learn he’s finally been spotted on his feet during legal hunting hours. How long he’ll stay with this doe is unknown, of course, but hopefully I can spot him sometime during the next 3 days.

The buck shown in the photo above should look familiar to anyone who’s been following this rut report; he’s the heavy, tall-tined 4x4 with a narrow inside spread and big body that has traveled through several of my shooting lanes during the past several days. He circled my Dave Smith Decoy (Posturing Buck) several times during my morning sit, and then again he showed up during my afternoon hunt. Tonight he actually locked antlers with my decoy and shoved it a bit but didn’t tip it over.

I’m watching the weather forecast closely because beginning tonight through Monday night, this part of eastern SD is under a winter weather warning. We could receive up to a foot of snow, and it’ll be blowing around thanks to 25- to 35-mph north winds. After the snow hits, the temps will plummet, with lows of 6 or 7 degrees. I can handle the snow and cold, but it’s the white-out conditions that scare me. It’s hard to predict when the visibility conditions will change on a dime, and you can’t determine where the road ends and the ditch begins. Not good.

If I can travel safely the 15 miles to my hunting property, I should have decent bowhunting because I’ve learned from experience where the deer like to go when conditions turn brutal. I also know the snow and blowing winds will force those deer that have been living in CRP and shelterbelts to head for the river-bottom trees, which is exactly where I plan to bowhunt tomorrow. I won’t take any unnecessary risks traveling to my hunting area, but I don’t plan on sitting home watching TV, either. I’ll keep you posted.