Overall Activity Status: All of my contacts are whining about little activity this month. Most blame it on warm temperatures (which has deer moving in dark; see the photo here of an Oklahoma buck a friend sent recently) or abundant native browse (because of late summer rains), meaning not as many deer are going to corn feeders by their bow stands. I'm optimistic that the first week of November will be better, especially since colder temperatures are expected and there is no full moon to complain about. With freezing temperatures coming soon, native browse will die back and you can bet that deer will get interested in free corn again.
Fighting: I've seen several mix-ups between younger bucks, sparring and a little pushing and shoving. When the calendar rolls over to November, expect the older bucks to start mixing it up as well. This pre-rut time frame is a good time to employ calling, such as rattling and grunting. Both calls stay in my blind or stand within easy reach at all times.
Rub Making: Sign is abundant in high traffic areas, like ag field edges, or around corn feeders and water tanks.
Scrape Making: still no reports of fresh scrapes, although it is that time of year and they should be out there. I'm hesitant to go crashing along my favorite creek channel just to say I've seen one, but I would bet they are there. I prefer to hunt from the outside in, not going into those prime areas unless necessary, maybe during peak rut or later in the season.
Chasing: Young bucks sniffing and bothering does, but no participation in the dance from the big boys.
Daytime Movement: This is going to sound like a broken record, but the window of opportunity is still small to shoot a mature buck. The first half hour of daylight in the morning and the last half hour after sunrise are best. Most reports tell the same tale I've heard for a month: does and small bucks visible in daylight, older bucks on trail cameras after shooting hours with occasional random appearances in shooting hours. Texas' general season opens on November 2. Expect action very early or very late in the day.
Estrous Sign: None yet.
X Factor: When hunting a small property, and sometimes a big property, what the neighbors are doing across the fence can ruin your hunt. Take this example. A friend hunted the Texas youth deer season this past weekend with his son on his 300-acre lease. The week before, he had seen good deer activity and a couple of good bucks on his cameras.
He walked to his stand with his son and saw a pickup parked on the boundary fence 400 yards away. The truck never moved, but who knows what the people were doing just across the fence. The evening was slow; they saw two spike bucks.
The following evening, this time the same fenceline had a pickup driving up and down it at prime time. My friend heard 15 shots, and he and his son did not see a deer. Youth season is held on a weekend, so my friend could not hunt at a different time, but the lesson is that any time you hunt a small acreage property with other hunters nearby, try to hunt it during the week. That's your best chance at hunting undisturbed deer, when things are quiet, as they should be in middle-of-nowhere deer country.