The buck in the photo is a nice 10-point my trail cam snapped on a mock scrape located on public land. Originally, I'd found several natural scrapes along this field edge; then I created the mock nearby where the photo opportunity was better. I set the camera, and got this buck the first night, then two others in the next two evenings. I'll leave the camera out for at least a week at this spot, just as a survey tool to census the number and of bucks in the area.
But as nice as this buck is, the real excitement came when I did a brief scouting loop through the nearby hardwood timber. While there were fewer rubs than I'd anticipated, the scraping activity was unbelievable. It took a little walking to discover the first good scrape in the timber, but once I found that one it was like playing connect-the-dots; one buck had laid down a scrape line that beelined through a hardwood bench, with no scrape being more than 25 yards from the last. Whenever I find concentrated activity like this, especially in security cover, I feel I've found a buck that's highly shootable. He's clearly spending a lot of time in this timber, and making sure he advertises himself as broadly as possible. Even better, the scrape line passed within 20 yards of one of my favorite stand trees.
Cold weather has settled in wonderfully over the region; my thermometer read 25 degrees this morning, insuring that bucks will feel energized as they ramp up their travels. I was in northern Missouri over the weekend, helping friend and outfitter Ted Marum (tri-state outfitting.com) hang stands for the upcoming rut. Temps remained cool throughout the day for the entire weekend, and fresh rubs and active scrapes were abundant. All signs are pointing to some stellar hunting across the Midwest in the days to come.