The deer had been showing signs of serious rutting activity, with plenty of never-before-seen big bucks showing up on trail cam images. Even before making it to my blind, in a stretch of woods bordering farmland, I ran into several deer feeding in a field. Once settled in my blind, I did a bit of calling, and it wasn’t long before I heard two bucks fighting deep in the woods. I gave a series of grunts and a very vocal buck grunted enthusiastically back. I heard him closing in, stopping at 40 yards, trailing a doe that had come in and started feeding. He stayed just behind her in thick timber, and seemed to be waiting for her to finish feeding before continuing his courtship. With the buck standing stock still behind heavy cover, I raised my rifle and waited for the doe to start moving. On cue the buck followed her into an opening, giving me the second I needed for a clean shot.
They both ran off and moments later I heard more commotion as another buck came running straight at my blind, veering off a few metres away into the bush. I retrieved my buck a short distance away, after kicking up yet another deer while tracking him. It was an action-packed finish to an exciting hunt, and a great example of the deer activity one can experience when hunting during the rut in Northwestern Ontario.
With an abundance of agricultural land and great access to Crown land, hunters in the Thunder Bay area can set up tree stands or blinds in fields, cuts or woodlots. They can also walk cutovers, old logging roads or still hunt through timber. An ever-growing whitetail population coupled with the availability of additional antlerless deer seals sweetens the deal. Hunters can stay in lodges or outfitter camps, or even local motels and do day trips, as many hunting areas are close to Thunder Bay and surrounding communities.
Ontario's Sunset Country website provides a listing of accommodation options and can be a great place to start when looking for your next deer hunt base camp.