By Mark Kenyon

Yesterday, while sitting in the woods overlooking a prime whitetail food source, I read an email that put a big smile on my face.

You see, when I sit in my treestand I usually spend a lot of time thinking, and re-thinking and over thinking everything about my hunting strategies and plans. While doing that, there aren’t smiles very often on my face. On the contrary, I’ve usually got some kind of frown or scowl, as my mind churns through the internal whitetail database that I’ve obsessively tried to create over the past 26 years.

Should I hunt in the back stand with a west wind? Should I wait til closer to November? Should I be taking advantage of this cold front and push in? Will this precipitation get the bucks moving earlier? Should I stick with my plan to avoid morning hunts until November, or am I missing opportunities? The questions are endless, and my internal debate constantly rages.

In the example of last night, I was trying to determine what my best plan should be for my hunts over the next week. I have seven days left until I leave for Ohio, so if I want a chance at a Michigan buck before gun season, these next seven days are my best chance. My current hypothesis is that it’s worth diving into my best spots over the next few days (which is about a week earlier than I usually do), because of the cold temps, the precipitation, the good wind directions, and because this is my final period of time to get a crack at one of my local bucks. That said, I could also argue many of my own points with counterpoints, and sometimes get all turned around.

This brings us back to the email that made me smile. This email came from Bill Winke of, one of the whitetail hunters I respect most and one I’ve learned a tremendous amount from. In his weekly newsletter that he sent out yesterday, October 23, he shared some thoughts on hunting strategies for the next week or so, and why it looks pretty good. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and he very clearly confirmed many of my own thoughts. Here’s what Bill had to say…

“The extended forecast looks really good.  Finally, a year with cooler temps.  I hope this pattern holds up for the first two weeks of November too.  The temperature makes a huge difference at this time of year.  I expect good hunting this next week.

Anytime you get a cold front, or even cool temps, in late October you should have some very good hunting.  I used to wait until November 1 to start my serious rut hunting, but I learned about ten years ago that I was waiting too long.  I now get serious around October 25.  This year, with the cold temps we have today and tomorrow, I would get started even earlier. Especially for afternoon hunts.  Mornings are a bit riskier.

It is best to wait until the bucks are actually chasing before you start to get aggressive in the mornings.  This is because the best morning stands are deep in the cover and close to doe bedding areas.  If you hunt the fringe, you are probably going to bump too many deer going in.

You can’t hunt bedding areas very often before the does know you are there and stop moving naturally.  It always makes sense to save your best stands for the best times and the best times to hunt near bedding areas is from November 1 onward. 

Prior to November 1, consider hunting travel routes in the mornings, not right next to the bedding areas.  Actually, if you are able to find them, funnels between two bedding areas are great stand sites for morning hunts early in the rut.  Or, if you don’t have these kinds of spots, stick with hunting just evenings until the tail end of October.”

Boom. Mind blown. Inner turmoil calmed. Somehow, as if he had heard all of the questions rattling around in my head, Bill had calmed my doubts, confirmed my suspicions, and increased my confidence.

That said, tonight I’m heading in. For the first time this year I’ll be hitting what I consider one of my best spots in Michigan. Temperatures this afternoon will be in the low 40’s and upper 30’s. There’s a slight chance of rain/snow showers, and the wind is perfect. Tonight might just be the night … and if it is, I’ll have Mr. Winke to thank for giving me that final confirmation I needed to know I was making the right decision!

And if you’re aiming to take Bill’s advice as well, I wish you luck! We should be in for a good week of hunting!

If you’re interested in getting info like this from Bill, I’d highly recommend you sign up for his weekly newsletter. Click this link to do so.