Heads-up. I’m taking a break from my real-time hunt for a possible world-record buck to give you this report: The pre-rut is kicking in.

Here in Missouri both Grant Woods and I saw juvenile bucks pushing does today. And back in Montana, my buddies are reporting that little cheeky bucks are starting to hassle old dull-eyed does.

In a remote soybean field here in the Mississippi River valley, I saw the most conclusive evidence that the pre-rut is starting: yearling fawns running around like caffeinated kids at a daycare.

The minute we get a break in the weather — it’s been scorching hot through much of the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys — and a cold front drops the temperatures you’re going to see bucks really start to get wild-eyed.

This is the time to start pulling out the stops. Rattling will be a very effective tactic from now through mid November. Grunting will be better later on, but you might throw in a few grunts as you rattle.

It’s a good time to start really watching funnels and travel corridors. The big boys won’t get into the action for another week or 10 days, but post up on fence crossings and pinch points. You’re going to start to see a lot more harried-looking does and a lot more roaming bucks.

Photo by: Emery Orlikowski