During the third week of October, I headed in to a low-lying soybean field that butted up against a wetland. I have a great tree in a hedgerow that offers a great shot out in to the crop field, an excellent view of the surrounding CRP/wetland cover, and has some loaded crabapple trees nearby. The sun had barely made its appearance for the morning when a yearling 8 point buck popped out in to the standing beans 400 yards distant. Over the next 10 minutes, the buck fed across the field and disappeared into a thicket just 40 or so yards distant. I sat another hour or so before climbing down to speed scout a couple other locations on the wildlife area. On my walk back to the truck, I bumped into a doe and a fawn on their feet, and also saw a couple other antlerless deer in a couple other locations that I poked around in.
I believe the date was October 18th and the buck sign was really popping up fresh for the first time in the season – lots of fresh rubs along hedgerows and scrapes under overhanging branches along crop fields. 2 areas in particular got me excited.
First, I located some ultra fresh rubs where a couple hedgerows intersected along some heavy CRP cover. A little bit more poking revealed several large beds tucked up in the cover. This would be an area to come back to when the wind was right and the pre-rut was a little more kicked in.
Second, I found some heavy trails funneling deer out of some thickets and into a standing corn field where a low-lying area had become an actively used waterhole during our abnormally dry early fall weather. These were some of the heaviest-used deer trails I have found since moving to Ohio. The only trick would be getting the right wind to sit beside the waterhole before the local farmers came through with their combines to harvest crops.