Rut Report November 14

Day No. 14 of a Midwest whitetail rut hunt is in the books. Discover what North American Hunter Senior Managing Editor Dave Maas learned during his day in South Dakota.

This afternoon (November 13) I sent the following text message to my office coworkers: “Tonight I’m The Troll. Cross my river bridge and death awaits thee.”

I suppose it might be a bit difficult to decipher from the photo below, but I’m overlooking a rock-and-gravel bridge (see the two culverts?) in hopes that whitetails will walk across the bridge to avoid the sketchy ice that’s forming on the creek. Yesterday afternoon from a nearby ladder stand, I watched a half-dozen deer cross this bridge on their way to a clover/brassica field, including one 120-class 4x4, but tonight the deer didn’t show.

Instead, deer entered the food plot from the east instead of the south, and one of those deer was the giant buck I’ve been waiting for all bow season. He was chasing a doe and her fawn, and his massive 5x4 rack (150-class) looked even better in person than on scouting cam pics (below).

I can’t hunt tomorrow morning, but I’ll be in the field extra early in the afternoon because I think deer will be moving well before dark due to the severe cold. It was 4 degrees when I left the woods at dark tonight, and the forecast is for minus 15 (air temp; not wind-chill) overnight.

The deer are stopping only briefly at my clover/brassica field; their ultimate destination is a standing cornfield another 400 yards to the northwest. I have two wooden box blinds on the southern edge of this cornfield, but I don’t know if the major deer trails through the deep snow pass within shooting range of either of these blinds. I suspect they do not. But tomorrow afternoon I’ll find out for sure. If the deer trails don’t pass near the blinds, I’ll find a blowdown to use as an ambush.

One more note on current rutting behavior here in SD: My father-in-law has been pheasant hunting with buddies during the past 2 days, and each time they’ve jumped big mature bucks from cattail sloughs and willow thickets on the prairie. Some of these bucks have been bedded alone, while others have been tending does. The rut is still on!

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