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Illinois hunting and fishing

The rut is on in Illinois

November 09, 2008 at 04:13 AM

Scotty Battin never had time to get nervous.

After watching a doe run past his tree stand last weekend, the Mason City bowhunter (pictured above) heard a noise to his left. He glanced and saw a buck. With nice antlers. Battin pulled back on his bow. Took aim. And fired.

Moments later he was shaking with excitement as a huge 17-point buck circled his tree stand before dropping to the floor of the small Logan County woodlot.

So it goes during the whitetail rut. Odds are had Battin hunted the same location a few days earlier, he would never have seen that mature buck. But like clockwork, the arrival of November signals a time when big bucks lose their inhibitions in the pursuit of love.

Battin is one of several bowhunters who have benefited from the approach of whitetail breeding season. Every year in early November, big bucks start falling. This year is no different, as taxidermists report increased business the past week and big buck stories are showing up with increasing regularity.

The recent surge has made up for a slow start to the archery season and coincides with increased activity in the fields by farmers eager to combine corn. No question, this year’s late harvest has slowed bowhunting across much of Illinois. But with crops coming out and love in the air, archers can rightly view the days until first shotgun season (Nov. 21-23) as their prime time.

That’s why so many bowhunters have vacation scheduled for November. That’s why so many out-of-state license plates are parked along gravel backroads, some of those non-residents paying up to $2,500 for five days of hunting.

Sure that’s a lot of money. But now’s a time when a hunter from Mississippi can show up for a few days and have a chance to shoot a 10-point buck the likes of which would set his state on fire. That happened this week in Fulton County.

Now’s also a time when a farmer can jump out of his combine and head to his deer stand in blue jeans, a flannel shirt and a sweaty hat. And still shoot a buck. Chuck Hamstra of Albany (pictured below) did exactly that Tuesday night, when he shot a massive Whiteside County 18-pointer that should score better than 200 inches.

Illinois hunting and fishing

No question, the rut is the easiest time to shoot a buck for most hunters. Which explains why daily harvest ratios undergo a marked change. In the past week hunters shot 60 percent bucks and 40 percent does—the exact opposite of totals up until that point. During the peak of the rut, bucks may represent 80 percent of the harvest total.

Even so, hunting smart ups the odds in your favor. Battin is a good example. While working at Logan Correctional Center, he noticed bucks running does in the surrounding area. So he decided to leave the timber he had been hunting north of there for a small, 8-acre woodlot adjacent to a 15-acre prairie, a creek and grain fields.

“There’s always does in there and I had a hunch that maybe if I got over there and hunted, maybe a buck would come in,” said Battin, 28, who has been bowhunting since he was 11 and also does taxidermy work. “Man did that hunch pay off.”

Battin had never seen his big buck before, another sentiment expressed more frequently by rut hunters. While the early season is all about hunting bucks you’ve seen, scouted and maybe even filmed, the rut can bring newcomers from all over.

Fortunately for Battin, he didn’t get buck fever until after his deer was down.

“I couldn’t sit down and I couldn’t really stand up. How many times in a lifetime is that going to happen?” said Battin, who also shot a nice 22-pointer last year. “I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what did I just shoot?’”

What he shot was a massive 17-pointer that may well top the elusive 200-inch mark.

While that probably won’t be the biggest deer killed this year in Illinois, odds are anything bigger will come in the next two weeks.

Because the rut is on.


Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

nice bucks guys! I have talked to quite a few of my hunting buddies. Are deer sighting aren’t even close to what we saw last year. I realize there is alot of corn still in the field, but is that the only reason we are not seeing the number of deer this year? One thing I am not seeing is a number of 1 1/2 year old bucks strolling around. Just wondering what everyone else is seeing?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 09:04 AM

The beginning of last week, I though it was on… I saw 4 bucks ranginge from 1.5-4.5 year olds following a lone doe.  Following turned into chasing and a couple times I thought I was going to witness a fight between the bigger 2. 

Unfortunately I was watching and not hunting as I had a funeral to go to that morning.  I did get some video of the 2 bigger bucks and the doe.  Now I just need to get the correct cable to get the video on my computer.

They cooled off as the temps warmed up and the wind picked up the last part of last week, but then this morning I saw a 1.5-2.5 buck following a doe as I was getting ready for work.  For those that took vacation THIS week instead of LAST week you might be in luck!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 12:05 PM

I saw quite a few young bucks yesterday as well as a lot of does.  None of them were chasing anything.  But we have seen some bucks chasing in weeks past.  I am not convinced its 100% yet.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 12:15 PM

I think we are in the calm before the storm mode right now. Seeing a few young deer up on their feet early and alot of 2 year olds cruising.  Was in the right spot last week and shot a 175 incher.  Wind shut us down for the past few days.  Reports of alot of guys seeing giants moving at night so that tells me we are early. A local taxidermist only has 19 deer as of Saturday. Good luck to everyone, its gonna pick up in the next few days.  All my years of deer pics shows 11th-13th the monsters start cruzin….    >>>>>———————->

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 12:42 PM

I saw 16 different bucks on the 7th, and was lucky enough to harvest a 142 inch 10 point that weighed 244 live and 200 field dressed. I have never had such a great day on stand!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 01:57 PM

Hey Ga79,

I know how you feel.  I’ve hunted 4 hours in the morning and 4 in the evening the past 4 days.  It has honestly been brutal because I have only seen 4 total deer in that time.  I had a 2.5 year old come into my doe decoy last night, but that was the only significant action I saw.  The standing corn has a terrible effect on deer sightings, and anyone who says is doesn’t is lying.  Typically, I have found that the rut is very tricky… the woods can either be going crazy with deer all over, or they can seem incredibly quiet.  I think we are at a quiet phase right now.  Also, I saw 3 does that were by themselves, and no bucks anywhere in sight.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 02:46 PM

I have hunted hard the past fews days and I can tell you the rut is definatly on. In fact we are well into the chase phase at this time.  For the past week I have seen several large bucks chasing does despite the poor weather we had over the weekend. Now is the time get out and hunt.  We have a full moon on the 12th, this is the 2nd full moon after the autumnal equinox i.e. the rutting moon. The week after this should continue to be good after that better be hunting near a doe bedding area as the breeding phase will be on and things will start to slow as bucks will be holed up with estrous does. Good luck to all.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 07:50 PM

We’re looking forward to this week from about the 11th til next weekend as the prime time.  We saw nearly 10 bucks on the 8th but nothing on the 9th and none of the buck were following any does.  One massive buck passed within 50 yards of me.  My guess was it was at least a 170 class buck that proably weighed close to 275 on the hoof.  So I’ll remain optimistic.  Full moon is Thursday so the bucks should be seeking out some does by then.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/10 at 07:53 PM

google “trickle rut”-

if any of you guys are hunting around those types of areas, you can expect a slow, drawn out, lazy rut that really seems difficult to hunt.  In short, a trickle rut is when there are too many does in an area and bucks don’t have to put forth as much effort to defend territory, fight, or search for estrus does.  Obviously outfitters create a tremendous problem with the rut, but also think about those properties located near where we hunt that are known as deer haven’s.  Chances are there are too many does in those areas, and the bucks that were once hanging on your property have ventured over to get a peice from a number of does.

It sucks.  Short answer, KILL MORE DOES.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 08:29 AM

It is up and down right now the 29th i saw several bucks chasing and ever sence it has slowed with the hot weather and wind last night the 10th I saw 2 doe come out at 2pm feed for an hour and back in the woods i did see 3 bucks going from timber to timber looking but nothing real hard core yet I think most of us will agree the next few days folloing the full moon should be hot so my advice get out there and good luck

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 10:01 AM

I agree with lungbuster, once breeding begins you need to get as close to those “deer havens” as you can or get between two different areas and try to catch a buck moving from one “doe” area to another.  That will definatley increase your odds. Otherwise, you are correct, the woods can seem awfully quiet during a time when you should be seeing bucks.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 10:13 AM

Hunted all week, saw lots of bucks just cruising until Sat night.  The chasing started, but seemed like there was only 1 or 2 does in heat.  Is this the very beginning and how long should it last?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 12:11 PM


Depends where you are hunting at.  If I had to guess, I would say 20% of breeding has occured. But I’m no deer expert. The part that sucks about hunting the rut is there is a time period where the big bucks chase does to remote locations and you can be hunting your prime stand and not see a deer for hours.  This is also a great time of year to hunt a small peice of woods that you haven’t invested much time in so far.  The goal of the buck is to breed a doe.  They aren’t gonna breed a doe in a place that has high deer traffic, they are going to push them away so they can be alone.

When the woods go quiet and you aren’t seeing any deer, the breeding has started.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 12:43 PM

Well we must be at the part of the rut. I sat in my best stand this morning(11.14) for not only killing but seeing deer. I never saw anything… This has to be the weirdest rut I ever rembember. I killed a nice P&Y on Oct 30th. I have seen a few decent bucks, but nothing of late. Did we have a early rut? There still is alot of corn standing here, which I know has hurt alot. I kept thinking it was the calm before the storm 10 days ago, but we are past that now.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/14 at 10:01 AM

It is a messed up rut.  Not sure if it just randomly is different this year or if it has something to do with the relatively late full moon coupled with those days where it was 75ish outside.

We are defenitly at the phase of the rut that bucks are in the middle of breeding. It is the hardest time to hunt and honestly i hunted so hard for 5 days without seeing a damn thing that i’m hanging up my boots till cheater season.


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/14 at 05:07 PM

When I got home from work this afternoon around 5pm, I saw a couple 1.5 yr old bucks across the field behind my house.  As I was watching them I heard some noise in the CRP right next to the house.  Turned out to be a nice 10pt running a doe.  I’ll definitely be in a stand tomorrow!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/14 at 07:10 PM

Hunted this afternoon and saw two mature does and three yearlings. They came out into the open field about 40 minutes before the end of shooting time. A couple got wind of me an they all bolted. Not a single buck except for the lone 8 pointer I had cross a field about 80 yards in front of me earlier in the day around 12:30 pm. The real kicker about this was that I was standing in the wide open using the bathroom when I saw him and he didn’t even act concerned. He just slow walked it right past me. Have seen some monster bucks in last ten days or so but they all were just cruising all alone. I have been waiting for the action to pick up but it is really sort of quiet. Getting really frustrated. Wish the corn was all out.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/14 at 09:26 PM

Hey you hunters out there in the Tiskilwa (Bureau County area) does the rut seem to be in full swing or should I be ready for the action to get hot the next week or so? I have seen some big bucks but they all have been cruising alone. Let me know if you guys are experiencing the same thing. The woods has yet to go crazy with the bucks chasing the does like in past years.
Be safe out there guys and gals.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/14 at 09:34 PM

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