Overall Activity Status: Whitetails are generally moving well, thanks to cooling temps, as the first hard frosts of the season are starting to hit the central and southern portions of the region. Also, the corn harvest has begun in earnest in some places, and deer are responding to the fresh new food source.
Fighting: My trail cameras picked up the first photo of a buck with a broken tine. While bucks can snap a dagger in any number of ways, fighting is the most common.
Rub Making: Definitely on the rise. I've been scouting and hanging stands, and new rubs are popping up every day. I also found two signpost rubs (trees where multiple bucks rub almost every year) that had been reopened. Signpost rubs are almost always made in a highly visible area that connects several cover types.
Scrape Making: Bucks are getting serious about scraping right now, and the next 14 days will be some of the most vigorous scraping activity of the season. Indiana outfitter Ben Reynolds reported many fresh scrapes on oak ridges this week, and I checked a trail cam overlooking three mock scrapes I'd made last week. In addition to working my three fakes, bucks had opened up two of their own in the immediate area.
Chasing: Nothing significant on a broad basis, but scattered reports of bucks acting randy are popping up. During last week's Wisconsin youth hunt, a monstrous 185-class buck was killed as it chased a group of does around a field.
Daytime Movement: Still quite a bit of nocturnal movement occurring, but the cooler temps and overcast skies (several rain systems have moved through the region this week) have improved this situation. My neighbor has had several night-only trail-cam pics of a big-bodied 8-point this fall. Yesterday he called to report that he'd watched the buck feeding behind his barn for nearly a half-hour during legal shooting hours.
Estrous Signs: My cameras have captured several pics of does lingering near scrapes and, in one instance, a mature doe standing on her hind legs to sniff and work a licking branch. Whether this is a sign of a doe about to enter estrous, or simply curious, I have yet to discover. In any event, most does are a week or two away from estrous.
X-Factor: Weather and the corn harvest continue to be the major game-changers in the region. There are good acorn crops in several areas, but the mast has been on the ground long enough to lose the fresh-food appeal. Iowa expert Mark Drury shot a 177-inch 5-1/2 year old buck (pictured above) last week that was feeding heavily in a food plot. Deer will continue to exploit any new food sources (corn and soybeans in farm country) and, as long as cool temps persist, I look for rutting activity to build in the next week.