I have taken a break from blog post writing, as you can tell if you look closely enough. Yet, it is better late than never to get back into this. So, here we go! October is here and so is deer season! I am excited! Southern Iowa Deer Hunting 2023!
SUMMER 2023 - June, July, August
July started showing some optimistic weather systems that had me excited for fall plots. Knowing I would be planting in late August or early September due to operation schedules, I elected to wait instead of planting in late July. Good thing I did because late July through mid September was one of the worst droughts I have encountered - the plots would have been an absolute waste of time, energy, and money. Knowing the deer were going to change their patterns and movements through this drought, I anchored myself down for the long wait that is all too common here in Southern Iowa - empty cameras (as for mega giants) until we get caught up on precipitation and/or cool fall temperatures.
EARLY FALL 2023 PART #1 - September (Plots)
Finally, the first big rain to hit my farms came around September 10th, and we had almost all of our fall plots in. Unfortunately, it was only one rain, maybe enough to start 50% or so of the seed. We needed more and quick. It's not enough to just go off of accumulation. There is a factor for consistency that goes unnoticed by many that is equally as important. We got a second rain 10 or so days later that was about 0.10" to 0.25" depending on where it hit. This is nice to see, but just not that valuable compared to what is needed. As we got to the end of September, about 30 days post-planting, we see some decent germination and some acceptable growth, but we are about 40-60% compared to the 90-100% where we should be. The good news? The deer have been hammering what we do have. We will be posting photos of plots on Instagram in the coming week.
EARLY FALL 2023 PART #2 - September (Deer)
For the month of September, obviously the 1st month post-velvet-shedding, we have seen a low-moderate to moderate amount of deer on camera, but not what we expected with the food sources. Also, the deer we are seeing seem to be repetitive visitors - home bodies. About two weeks ago, a bowhunter who is coming this year as part of a group messaged me, showing a post he found about an Iowa guy who had lost a monster buck to EHD. This was the 2nd time this year that I heard something about EHD. Within a week, I had heard about 8 other instances, one close and others not so close. Looking back, if there is a timely drought that would be a textbook EHD catalyst, this year's drought was just that, sadly. We have yet to find any proof of EHD on the farms, but we also aren't diving into the core areas where we want our deer to feel safe in. As time goes on, we will sneak into some areas, so we will find some if it is indeed there. Of course, we will let everyone know if we find anything.
30-DAY OUTLOOK - October 2023
Looking at home the weather is tapering off to milder, cooler temps as we get later into the extended forecast, I remain positive for our plots to keep growing while avoiding a frost, yet there is no rain in the next two-week to three-week forecast on my farms. So, that will stop growing most likely. Crops have already dried out a ton. If you could find a moist crop, that's a rarity. This is also good news as we know that when the corn gets cut early to on-time, we have a very favorable bowhunting outlook since deer's favorite hide-out is gone - corn! We think that some crops are very much moderate to poor yield levels, so there won't be a ton of stubble in the field post-harvest. Also, with cooler temps coming, we expect scrapes to start firing in about two weeks or so. With it being so dry, scrapes will dry out and not be as powerful, but of course, bucks will find them. Just don't be shocked when some big ones dry-up in a week's time when they shouldn't. Also, acorn crop seems to be a strong one, but that can change area to area. Drought, acorns, standing crop (a lot coming out already), and maybe somewhat nearby EHD has been the downfall to great camera proof, but that is par for the course in Southern Iowa! Not much shocks me anymore. Yet, I know the rut is coming, and by the end of the month, we will be seeing a full moon on October 28th which should amplify the pre-rut phase into the rut the first week of November.
We will do another blog post, at the latest, once we get into the 2nd half of October that starts to highlight the November outlook. Until then, we would appreciate some prayers or positive thoughts for some rain (or full-out rain dances haha!) and avoiding EHD. That is about all any of us can do at this point - hope for the best and expect the worst. I have found overtime that by keeping expectations more humbled, I appreciate and enjoy the deer season much more naturally without such turbulent roller coaster highs and lows. Don't forget, no matter what, this is still Southern Iowa, and it will always remain a magical place to whitetail deer hunt.
Thanks everyone! Hope you all are doing well and have a safe, productive, and fun hunting season this year!