Early Whitetail Rut in Illinois?

As I recall in 2011, the whitetail rut came early, and it looks to repeat that trend again this year. Reports from several bowhunters are backing up this projection. In addition to the physical attributes like this buck arrowed by my buddy Rick Drapak last Saturday night, there have been quite a few sightings of bucks following does already. Rubs and pre-rut scrape activity is much higher than usual for this time of the year.
The pre-rut is one of the best times to be in the woods.  They are still marking their territory and establishing dominance, pushing around smaller bucks and challenging other bucks in their range. During this time, I like to use a grunt tube with a higher pitch to imitate a young buck. Big boys don't like it when younger bucks are trying to move in and hook up with their ladies. And they are more inclined to check out a fight, so rattling works now as well. They typically respond better to grunt calls and rattling now before they get locked in on does in estrus. Check out some gear for deer here, then hit the woods!

Take a look at the photo gallery below from some successful October hunts.

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