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Will gun hunters miss the rut?

November 16, 2008 at 03:25 AM

Jason Art had me worried.

Last Tuesday he shot an 11-point Putnam County buck that most folks I know would be bragging about for years to come.

That’s not what worries me.

It’s what the Chillicothe hunter said about deer in general that panicked me. “The rut is on fire,” Art said. “I don’t know if the deer can keep this up for another week.”

That’s a question gun hunters have been asking since the calendar came out showing Illinois’ first firearm deer season would be Friday through next Sunday. That’s later than usual and raises concerns that whitetail breeding season will be winding down.

To ease my fears I called Paul Shelton, Illinois deer biologist. He didn’t help much.

Yes, gun season is late, he said. Yes, the peak of the rut will be over by the time 200,000 orange-clad gun hunters take to the timber. Yes, bowhunters are stacking up bucks and should do even better in the days leading up to gun season.

Shelton did offer one positive note. “(The rut) will be on the tail end, but it should still be going good,” he said. “We’re not talking about an overnight start or an overnight dropoff.”

In other words, some bucks will still be running around like lovestruck 16-year-old boys.

Not that I’m going to kill a wall hanger next weekend. I’m more of a first-deer-that-comes-past kind of hunter. Venison tastes too good to wait for the deer of a lifetime. Besides, you could teleport me into a timber full of rutting bucks and I’d manage to mess it up somehow.

Even so, for the next few nights I want to dream about bagging a monster buck, late gun season or not.

And I finally found something that let’s me dream freely. Reviewing kill dates for some Illinois trophy bucks is fuel for my fantasies.

Consider that Scott Dexter of Macomb shot his 295 3/8-inch 47-point buck in McDonough County on Nov. 21, 2004. Just one day earlier that same year, Steve Wallis shot a Marshall County 22-pointer that measured 256 3/8 inches.

Remember Brian Damery’s Macon County 12-pointer, which had the highest-grossing typical frame of any deer ever at 231 1/8 inches? Damery shot that deer on Nov. 20, 1993.

Brian Bice shot a 256 1/8-inch 27-pointer in McDonough County on Nov. 22, 1992. Then there’s bowhunter Andrew French, who waited until Nov. 29 in 2000 to shoot his 24-pointer that scored 250 4/8 inches.

Those are just a few of the monsters taken in late November and December. No doubt there are more stories of late-season Illinois giants yet to be written. The reality is that gun season always moves bucks.

So sweet dreams this week.

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

No way will they miss the rut!! Shotgun season always has it perfect, what…they cant have it perfect one year? and for that 2-3 week gun season for the 09 season….NO NO NO NO NO NO NO WAY!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 08:06 AM


Gun hunters have nothing to worry about this weekend! The rut is here and the bucks will continue to roam hard through the end of the month. The peak will be gone but that’s not a big deal. Thanksgiving week will be hot in my opinion. One misconception some hunters have is that this wet and windy weather is bad for hunting, it’s not, in fact it’s great for hunting. Too many hunters stay in when it’s raining and windy thus missing ample opportunities to bag nice deer. I’m taking my boy out tonight, so I’m hoping more of the same weather we’ve had. I’ve been hunting Woodford, Tazewell McLean and Peoria Co. the last 6 weeks or so and only had a few days of inactivity, so the rut is definitely here. Good luck to all!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 08:11 AM

if the rut has started, it not very good in kendall or grundy countys. have hunted a prime spot for years in each of these locations with success ,,not this year, again no deer moving this morning, and anyone who thinks wind does not effect deer movement is crazy! in 20 yrs of hunting i think ive seen 5 deer when the wind is above 5-10mph.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 08:55 AM

bowhunterburk, I didn’t say the wind doesn’t affect their movement, it does, I said it makes for good hunting. Deer drive to low lying areas when it’s windy, so hunt low lying areas! If you hunt the same spot over and over with no regard to the weather, sure the hunting will stink. I just talked to some hunters in Tazewell co. this morning who had a ton of action and killed some nice bucks. Bucks running does hard, etc. The rut is in, no doubt about it. Good luck this year!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 09:06 AM

Quote by Ted Nugent:  He was asked how many points or how large a deer must be for him to consider it a trophy.  He answered:  “Any deer quartering away at 15 yds.”  How true!  I’ve seen more deer this year than in 18 years of hunting….road kill too. Probably set another record next weekend for deer taken….and for MONSTER BUCKS!  Good Luck.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 10:21 AM

If the Rut is ON like everyone says why am I still seeing does with their yearlings? I had two sets of does with their yearlings within 30 yards of me last night. One set bedded down for 40 minutes in front of me last night. I’m seeing alot more buck activity during daylight but for some reason I’m not seeing the chasing like I have in the years past??? Something is different this year and I can’t put my finger on it!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 10:32 AM

burk, don’t know where you hunt in Grundy, but where I do, the activity has been intense for the past week and a half. By the way, wind doesn’t slow down the movement in my woods. Lot’s of deer in the bottoms on windy day’s.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 11:04 AM


You are right. I have seen many does in fulton county that have been hanging with their fawns. As the matter of fact I killed a big doe wednesday night that was with two fawns. My hunting buddies have also commented on the amount of groups of 2-3 does they have seen with no bucks in sight. This rut sucks. If you ask the experts they will say it must have something to do with global warming. HA.

Also, 15-25mph wind dramatically lowers deer harvest oppurtunities. If it didn’t, then why aren’t record numbers of deer killed on 25mph days?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 12:47 PM

How much do the buck license cost for out of state hunters?  A friend and I are heading in next week and need to purchase license.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 01:34 PM

Chris you missed the boat by about 3 months.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 02:00 PM

Burk. If you have only seen 5 deer with wind over 5-10mph something is terribly wrong. WOW I cant remember such low wind speeds all fall. I personally don’t think wind makes a big difference until it gets above 15 mph. Hell if deer didn’t move with winds over 10 mph they would starve to death not moving to feed…

This rut is all screwed up for sure. I am starting to believe this is going to go down as another year when we ask what happened to the rut. Some people I have talked to say its going strong right now some say they aren’t seeing no sign of it. Wether the rut is strong next week or not, there will be a good harvest. I don’t think the number will be real high in my area do to the standing corn. The weather is suppose to be good & dry for the next several days before gun season, maybe there will be a lot of corn harvested before Friday!

Good luck to all & be safe!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 04:31 PM

I have to say where I hunt in Peoria county rutting activity is at a all time low.  Hell, we are seeing does nurse fawns still.  Whats that all about.  I better ask the Non-typical hunter, he seems to be full of knowledge. LOL. I know alot of guys in Peoria county and they aren’t seeing squat for activity.  I suppose we could be in “Lock Down” and all activity is occuring at night.  I just know one thing at this point.  The rut sucks again this year.  Can’t tell you how many days I have been without seeing deer activity.  I just keep on rotating stands to see if activity is better somewhere else.  With four more days of bowhunting left before gun season I hope it picks up.  Good luck to all you guys out there that are puttin in those long hours in the stand.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 05:48 PM

To answer lungbuster’s question on why there aren’t many record number of deer killed on 25 mph windy days, I can see 2 reasons right of the bat.
One, many hunters are fair weather hunters and won’t go out into the rain or wind to hunt.
Two, too many hunters are using permanent stands over their best spots, but not relocating when the weather changes. So when it’s windy, they’re hunting where the deer aren’t. Lets face it, deer don’t go invisible when the weather changes, they just relocate.

I just came out of the woods tonight with my son and we didn’t see anything while we were hunting. At 4:00, we heard a buck rub on some saplings but never saw him. When we left, we busted him out unintentionally and he was locked down with a doe. That could be one reason some aren’t seeing too many deer as the bucks are tied in with the does. I have heard some hunters complaining about not seeing anything, but I have to tell you, I have a taxidermy studio full of rutting bucks so someone is killing them. Maybe this issue is localized in several counties. It’s only a guess.

The long hours will pay off…good luck.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 06:05 PM


Your joke made me laugh out loud.  Hahahaahah.

I’m huntin in and around Peoria cty and i’m seeing the same thing you are. Heck, just call any taxidermy and they will tell you they arent seeing jack compared to years past.  I’ve talked to 3 already.

I’m telling you guys, the rut is messed up DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING.  Havent you listened to a damn thing Al Gore has said the past 5 years? cmon!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 06:06 PM

The buck to doe ratio has an affect on the rut as well as weather and hunting preasure. I suspect there are some areas with too many does which means the bucks don’t have to compete as hard for them. Gotta kill some does.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 06:20 PM

Marc Anthony hit the nail on the head….to many hunters are fair weather hunters and hunt permanent stands to hard.  I can say the buck I took was 90% luck and the rest was skill.  My father and I have killed some nice bucks during the rainy/wind days.  You cant kill them laying in bed or at work I wish I had more vaction time. It has taken me 18 years to kill a buck like that with a bow, I just hope its not another 18. And the best part of it all, my Dad was with me.  Good luck fellas!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 07:07 PM

I’m hunting in Henderson county, this week end deer was out, saturday i seen 20 does no bucks around and all the does was group up in 4 , then sunday i seen 2 does and little 3 pointer chase them and grunting like mad, after they left the field 8 bucks came in to feed and about half was making scrapes, two started fighting, then they all left,  wait about hour then i got up to head out, almost dark, walk around a ditch and in the field was 6 does, i hunted every week end from oct 20 till now and thats the first buck activty seen, alot of scapes and rubs in that time but no deer chasing

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 07:31 PM

maybe the rut will kick in after gun season!!!
and for the record i am not a fair weather hunter, spent many hours in the cold blowing rain and snow. and the last two days i have been hunting a small 8 acre low area with a crick running through it, the wind is definetly less down in this bottom but the tops of the trees still move and create alot of noise, this is why i believe the deer wont move when it is real windy, or they do so more at night when they feel safer. wind or not i have some great land i hunt and have been great in the past but not this year. even the private land down in clay county i hunt was dead last weekend!! still have plenty of time to meat in the freezer

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 08:27 PM

I hadn’t been seeing much until I relocated a stand near a big thicket in a valley next to a creek.  I’ve seen more hard chasing today than I’d seen in the past week.  Two chases this morning and two more tonight.  I had 2 fresh scrapes within 10 yards of my stand.  Young bucks are just wandering alone aimlessly through the timber.  I saw a nice buck bedded with a doe in the middle of a cut wheat field… a sure sign that breeding is going on.  I saw plenty of shooters today, but just not close enough for a shot.  But if you’d asked me Saturday night if the rut was on, I’d have said no.  I sat for 4 hours without even seeing a single deer.  Amazing what a 300 yard move can do for you.

But I agree, it’s pretty isolated and not near as widespread as I’ve seen in the past.  Heck, I can’t even find many does after seeing 15-20 at a time earlier in the year.

Posted by KC-IBS on 11/16 at 09:14 PM

I’m glad to hear everyone is seeing about the same as me! I hope things pick up!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 10:25 PM

I haven’t seen squat.  Last week say numerous young bucks either running doe’s or scent trailing.  This week, nothing.  I hunted a perfect low funnel through the ravines during them 30 mph winds and seen nothing but 40 or so turkeys.  Not one deer was moving through.  I was only set up 60 yds from bedding to the standing corn.  I have seen only two shooter bucks and they are borderline shooters.  We have not seen squat for doe’s this year either.  I think it has a lot to do with the standing corn.  Past years I could pattern the doe’s to a T and see numerous bucks.  This year is the complete opposite.  I only see one, maybe two doe’s traveling together at a time when in past years I could see 7-8 doe’s traveling together.  Something is defenitly screwy this year.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 12:01 AM

not here, been seeing runing and chasing for two week’s now ...stepson killed a 13 pointer vet.‘s day and he was runing a doe and followed her out even after being shot…..pic.‘s on the forum “coles county buck”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 07:51 AM

knox county had big bucks chasing on hALLoween shot 8pt last Friday during 25mph wind my experience windy days they stay down in the valleys I passed on 3 bucks before shooting the one I did last night saw groups of does no bucks all that means is bucks already found a hot doe lots of running during the night rut is far from over Shotgun hunters will do fine and with all the young deer around it looks like a really good second rut in December

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 08:07 AM

Guys I just hunted JoDaviess County last weekend.  Saturday morning I hit a huge deer that came running into my grunt/snort/wheez call and my rattling antlers at 6:40am.  I hit the deer a little too far back.  I saw the arrow sticking out of him when he took off and ran away.  My friend and I tracked a huge blood trail for over a mile into a standing corn field.  We looked for a total of 7 hours Saturday and 2 additional hours Sunday.  I never found the buck - sucks…  While looking for the buck I saw three additional monsters, four 2.5 year old 8’s and several does.  The rut is on in the northwest corner of our state.  Good luck to everyone this weekend!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 08:39 AM

I have to say that I haven’t hunted my stands too much, I intentionally don’t climb into alot of them until the rutting activity kicks in.  Today I saw one buck, I guess we are in “Lock Down”.  I am having a hard time even locating my doe groups. I am burnin the phone lines up with my buddies and they aren’t seeing much here in Peoria county either.  It sucks. I don’t blame the winds either.  I have seen some giants out cruzin in high winds in years past.  I thought last year was bad, don’t think it holds a candle to this year.  Hope this isn’t the future of our deer hunting.  In the mean time I will keep up the management part and keep killin some does to keep numbers in check.  Good luck to all you guys, can’t get any worse for you guys not seeing deer.  >>>>—————->

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 09:48 AM

Global warming. That is really funny. Its called hunting fellows, and sometimes your lucky sometimes you are not. I hunted hard for 7 days, from November 1 st to November 7th. I weathered 27 mph winds, 82 degree temperatures, and lightning storms. I saw only 1 buck until the 6th. Then on 11/7 I saw 17 different bucks on stand and was fortunate enough to harvest a 142 ” 10 point that weighed 244 live. It only takes 5 minutes for a terrible season to turn into a great one. The last time everyone was complaining of a terrible rut because of El Nino, I killed my best buck ever (155 P&Y) at 11:15 am on 11/13 when it was 72 degrees out.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 11:37 AM

GLOBAL WARMING??? Come on Lungbuster. Its called deer hunting. If every year was the same and it was so easy everyone would be out there. Deer are going to move when they want to not when we want then to. I have talked to several guys this morning including a couple well known taxidermist. One said he thinks the breeding is on the down side. I aggreed with him 100%. We have had so many days where the weather has made it bad on deer movement along with the late corn harvest.
I have been lucky enough to put deer in my freezer and a nice buck for the wall, but the total deer that I have seen this fall is way below last year. Of my 32 hunts I have had 16 were I haven’t seen a deer. Thats the thing that mind boggles me. Keep going theres only a few days left before bow season changes for all!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 12:46 PM

I am not seeing much either, I hunt a private farm surrounded by outfitted properties, my conclusion, day after day and years of outfitted hunts and hunters taking borderline eight pointers before they head home takes its toll - I have seen rut activity with younger bucks just no big guys, dont really worry about the rut during slug season, once the orange armies hit the woods the bucks are bound to move, thats my hope at least

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 04:30 PM


the GLOBAL WARMING was a joke…haha…. personally, I don’t believe in global warming.  I was making fun of the tree hugging experts that blame every little thing that seems fishy with our environment on global warming.

honestly, i think anyone would be foolish to think that excessive outfitters and big buck hunting doesnt have a negative affect on the rut.  More outfitters taking up more land and shooting less does as well as more bowhunters passing on does to wait for that monster buck is not good for the herd.  Bucks have to search very little to find a hot doe, which is why a lot of people say the rut hasnt been what it has in years past.  Also, how healthy is it to see 20,30, even 40 deer pour into food plots and open corn fields? It just doesn’t even seem right to look at.  Deer look more like ants when there are that many together.

I’m gonna ask all of ya to shoot a doe or two this firearm season.  Git r done.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 05:09 PM

i agree we need to harvest more does, so the bucks have to look harder and further to breed. plus a good 2.5 to 3.5 yr old doe is some good eatin!! better than a old buck. i personally harvest does early season for the meat, love to make sausage and snack sticks in my smoker. then will wait for a shooter buck. just my way doesnt meen its right!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 07:42 PM

It just dosent seem right,while waterfowl hunting after school and in the morning on the 70 degree days two weeks ago we were seeing big bucks chasing does and while hunting this week I havent seen squat. Could be because of all the corn still in?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 08:08 PM


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 08:57 PM

Have Been hunting hard in Fulton county on private land, have been seeing alot of smaller bucks chasing. Very few big ones moving at all. Still seeing does with fawns and groups of does no bucks in sight. My guess is it is going to be one heck of a gun season alot of big ones taken. Got a nice doe on sunday a buddy shot a doe on sunday too. No monster in sight.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/17 at 10:47 PM

Covered in deer this morning from 6:15 till 9:00. Only one buck, too small to shoot, small 8pt. Have taken 2 doe already, could of added 2 more, but chose not too. Probaly had 15 doe come through, only 3 little ones.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/18 at 02:41 PM

I just confirmed today what I have been seeing for the last 10 days.I am hunting in scott county and i had a 160” deer chasing a couple of does come in about 7:00 a.m.running in a bean field. They went in the timber just down wind of me about 60 yards and stayed in the woods. Just when I was about to hang my bo back up I saw another buck trailing the same deer.When I went to hang my bo back up I saw the 1st. buck with a hot doe at about 20 yards. They are so locked down it took them 30 minutes to move litterally 5 foot. At 8:00 a.m. I shot the buck. I aged him at 7 1/2 years, his face is competely silver. But yes it is going to be a very slow gun hunt for most. You better find a real thick area and hope you are right in the heart of it because you ARE NOT going to see alot of movement.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/18 at 05:52 PM

was out for 2 hours again this evening, not a single deer. but some fresh tracks since sunday. maybe the deer in my area have gone nocturnal????

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/18 at 09:00 PM

Sunday I had 500 or so acres of standing corn surrounding my place.  Today there is about 100-150 acres left standing and it is slowly coming out of the field.  When these fields get cleaned out it usually means I see a lot more deer movement on my place.

I have been seeing buck movement during daylight hours with only a few does around so this weekend should be pretty good.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/19 at 07:45 AM

i tell you guys what. I have been hunting these couple of weeks in the wind and snow and what have ya. It has been windy here in mclean and the deer have not been affected by it. When the rut is on it is on and it don’t matter what the weather is the bucks are going to keep things going all day long. Yea when the rut is over yea the deer will lay out of the wind on the hill side,but when the rut is on it doesn’t matter..Period

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/20 at 11:10 PM

Well we hit the rut right on the nose in southern Illinois.  I hunt Pope county and they were rutting hard from the 19th through the 22nd.  Those bucks were just stupid horny.

Posted by Jason I on 11/25 at 01:27 PM

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