The 2021 deer season (https://app.fw.ky.gov/seasondates/) has had one of the slowest starts in recent memory.
With warm temperatures and pockets of massive acorn crops, deer movement has been very slow. It hasn’t been the kickoff we hoped for. The first few weeks were less than stellar.
So far, vertical bowhunters have arrowed only 5,939 deer, crossbow hunters 3,208, and firearm (youth) hunters 1,968. But last weekend, on Oct. 16-17, fairer winds began blowing. Kentucky’s 2021 two-day early muzzleloader season ushered in a wave of hunter orange and a great cold front to boot.
This led to a highly anticipated increase in deer movement. I opted to cash in on the quality weather. In doing so, I tagged a nice, mature 11-point buck. I saw upward of 50 deer in the half-day sit, and 15 of those were antlered. The biggest of the bunch walked up out of a sinkhole it was bedded in, eased through the CRP, and got bit by my CVA. You can watch the hunt on the most recent episode of Midwest Whitetail (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9ru45uo-A4).
Reflecting on the two-day muzzleloader season, I wasn’t the only one who experienced success. According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (https://app.fw.ky.gov/harvest/DeerByWeapon.asp), 4,028 deer were tagged by Kentucky muzzleloader hunters during the two-day season. While that’s about 600 fewer deer than last season, it’s still a solid harvest total.
Looking ahead, the next week or so is shaping up to mirror the weather front that pushed across the state a week ago. We’ll continue seeing cooler temperatures for the next week or so. Depending on the specific location, hunters are seeing 5-10-degree drops in highs within 24-hour periods. That’s a solid weather change.
The best part – this front is bringing cooler weather to the weekend, so most hunters can take advantage of it.
Furthermore, it comes at a time when deer are naturally increasing their movements anyway. The pre-rut is ramping up, and rut sign is appearing across the landscape. I spent some time checking the timber for rubs and scrapes, and both are popping up in large numbers. Expect that to continue for the next few weeks.
All in all, while the early season wasn’t much to write home about, Kentucky is now seated firmly in the pre-rut, and we’re finally getting the weather changes we need to spark good deer movement. The coming rut is doing the same. Things can only improve from here.
So, if you have a good pattern on a specific target buck, now is the time to move in and get the job done. Once the rut kicks off, all bets are off on where that deer will be. You have less than two weeks before the madness begins. The clock is ticking.