The biggest hunting day of the year happens on Saturday. This is one of the earliest gun opening days for many years and should hit right during the whitetail rut.
The long-range forecast doesn't look good for tracking deer or even sitting in the woods for any period of time. It looks like the weather is supposed to be in the low 30s to low 40s and windy, but no white stuff is being forecast.
History has taught us that weather always plays a huge role in whitetail hunting. While it's important to remember that whitetails live in this weather 24/7, the weather does affect the way they move. But it affects the hunter more. If one wants to stay warm and dry, using the proper outer layers will go a long way toward that goal. Another great way to stay out of the weather is a popup blind.
Popup blinds have been increasingly popular in the past few years. The prices have come down and the mobility of the blinds has helped hunters become more successful.
A couple important keys to keep in mind when hunting from a popup blind is location. Whether you're hunting field edges or deep woods, brush the blind with whichever vegetation you have handy. Grasses and corn stalks for field edges and/or downed branches or another brush one can find laying around the woods floor work great.
With the Saturday opening day falling an entire week before Thanksgiving and from the recent sightings, the bucks are going to be running does. More of that later in this column.
Of course, it's always important to remember just because we can see the game doesn't mean we can administer a good clean kill shot. Remember firearm safety every time we are in the woods, but this year let us be more mindful of the fact that this might be the first time some hunters have used a rifle to hunt big game.
While having the opening day fall an entire week before Thanksgiving is going to be different for many sportsmen, hopefully local sporting goods shops will see a good push before opening day.
Through the years, roughly 50 percent of the total deer take is done on opening day. Then the percentages go down with Thanksgiving being the second-largest day with the following Saturday coming in third. This year those numbers should equal out with a good number of hunters taking part in a long Thanksgiving weekend to spend in the field.
For those who have been in the field this year, there are plenty of good bucks in the Southern Tier this season. Of course, the larger bucks will be running a majority of the does, which means the opening weekend should be an excellent time to harvest that trophy of a lifetime.
For the first time in many years, the late hunters' mood and changing weather has kept the bucks looking for hot does. According to my calculations, this coming week bucks should be weathering well at the height of the rut. I believe the special time this year will be Nov. 14-17, which makes the opening day of gun season that much more exciting.
No matter if it's hunting the rut, just spending time with family and friends, sharing a camp for first time or 20th, or just trading stories at a local coffee shop, this is a magical time of year for sportsmen.
Good luck, shoot straight and be safe.