Wisconsin–Late September, October, November 2018
Well, here we are closing in on the second week of October. Can’t say that I’ve ever seen the fall colors as brilliant as they are this year. Just amazing! Also can’t remember the last time I’ve experienced as many days of cold, blustery, wet weather as we’ve experienced thus far this month. Believe it or not, a week ago I dumped nearly five inches of rain water from the gauge at our house. All that rain came through the area in the form of a huge storm that lasted a full three days.
But once that storm blew out of here and the skies cleared off, the temperatures dropped…a lot! As expected, the cooler weather did stimulate a flurry of deer activity as they got busy trying to store up some extra layers of body fat. Of course this increase in activity resulted in our RECONYX cameras getting more of a work out than they had been.
As we’ve discovered over past years, it’s not unusual to be well into the month of October before we start getting photos of mature bucks on our big woods property. In fact, past experiences would indicate that older age class bucks (deer that are 4 1/2 years of age and older) seldom show up on our property until the very tail end of October–and sometimes not until the first week of November.
However, we got a very pleasant surprise this year when we actually starting getting RECONYX photos of a mature buck the last week of September. But as is typical of a 4 1/2 year-old whitetail in our neck of the woods, the 10 point was limiting his random visits to the nighttime hours. But we were cool with this routine, as we felt confident the buck’s travel schedule would change dramatically as the rut drew near.
Like a lot of people who own and manage hunting property, we’re always curious to find out if we have a past history with a big buck that suddenly shows up. And that was definitely the case with the 10 point that had appeared in late September. So we started digging through our scouting camera photos from past years to see if we knew this deer. Well, we didn’t have to dig very far. As it turned out, we had a photo of a 9 point from 2017 as he was standing in a certain position. And then we captured a photo of the 10 point from this year standing in almost the exact same position. There’s no doubt in our mind that it’s the same deer.
While the 10 point had definitely increased in body size and added a substantial amount of antler compared to 2017, Jake and I decided give him a “pass” in hopes that Jake’s wife, Jacquelyn, would get a chance at him with her Mathews bow. And the way it looked initially, we had high hopes that it was going to happen. Because within a few weeks of getting the first nighttime RECONYX photos of him, the 10 point suddenly showed up in front of that same camera in broad daylight!
It couldn’t have been a better scenario for Jacquelyn to attempt to arrow her very first deer. Not only was the 10 point showing up in front of our RECONYX in daylight, we knew for a fact he was also walking well within bow range of a Banks Stump 4 blind we’d put up along the edge of a nearby food plot just a couple weeks earlier. So Jacquelyn would be able to sit in comfort as she and Jake waited for the 10 point to make an appearance.
Now along with running RECONYX cameras on our hunting property, a couple weeks earlier in late September I’d also put up a couple cameras on a relative’s property located approximately 15 miles from our place. It initially proved to be a very wise decision as, within just a few days of putting out the cameras, I began getting photos of some pretty darn nice bucks. One in particular, a heavy-horned 10 point, had really captured my attention.
Even though the 10 point stuck around for only a few days, I was confident he was still somewhere in the immediate vicinity. After all, it was just late September, which meant the bigger bucks were most likely sticking close to their home core areas. So I continued to run my cameras and kept my fingers crossed that he’d make a return appearance. But imagine my surprise when, over the next week or so, I got photos of a couple other good bucks. Even more interestingly, one of those bucks also showed up in front of a RECONYX camera I’d placed about 1/2 mile away.
Not gonna lie here, I was pretty jacked about the possibility of having a couple better than average bucks to hunt so close to home. But I was even more pumped about the possibility that Jacquelyn might actually get a chance to arrow her first ever whitetail on our own property, and so was Jake. However, for some reason known only to whitetail deer, the 10 point suddenly reverted back to his nocturnal lifestyle. (As we were to find out later, his late appearances at our property was most likely due to the fact that he was ranging over a far larger area than we ever would have imagined.)
Even though we had zero photos of bucks on our property that we personally considered shooters, Jake and I did bowhunt a few days in late October. As I mentioned previously, over the years we’ve owned our property there have always been instances when big bucks we’d had absolutely no history with just suddenly appeared. Even more interestingly, most of those appearances occurred during broad daylight. So this time around we decided that we were going to at least make an attempt to be there if a big buck did show up. As it turned out, we might as well have stayed home and watched television.
But things did work out a bit better for an adjoining landowner who has property just to the south of us. At 9 o’clock on Halloween morning the 10 point we’d been getting scouting cam pics of throughout late September and most of October made the mistake of walking within 20 yards of that landowner. And the rest, as they say, is history. Congratulations again, Jeff! After a number of years of going “deerless”, you more than deserved that buck!!
And this brings us into the first two weeks of November, which I dearly wish would have been more eventful than the last two weeks of September and the entire month of October. But unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Though Jake and I continued to run a half-dozen RECONYX cameras on both our property and our cousin’s, after the big 10 point disappeared we never had another buck show up that we’d consider shooting. This isn’t to say, however, that we didn’t have photos of some “nice bucks”. Truth is, we had photos of several very good looking bucks. But in our opinion those deer needed at least one more year. Hopefully they’ll survive Wisconsin’s upcoming nine day gun-deer season. Fingers crossed!