Nov. 1--Overall activity status: For much of the region, rutting activity is poised on the brink of the chase phase. Buck activity is very high right now, with young and middle-aged animals highly active, and older bucks just starting to get serious about moving. I am getting reports of a few does being tended by bucks, a sure sign they're about to enter estrus. Fighting: Fellow Field & Stream editor/blogger Dave Hurteau is hunting with me this week, and he heard a minor-level skirmish break out while on stand behind my home. Another neighbor rattled in (but couldn't shoot) a giant whitetail this evening. Reports from a friend in Iowa indicate that bucks are coming very well to the antlers, which indicates that cruising bucks are bumping into each other and willing to go a round or two!
Rub Making:** Some big rubs will be made over the next few days, many of which I call "frustration" rubs, for two reasons. First, bucks full of testosterone and ready to breed will vent their energy by tearing into saplings and working off steam. And second, some of these same rubs will frustrate hunters in the days ahead; as breeding peaks, sitting on buck sign will not be as important as finding does! That said, fresh rubs are a definite indicator of buck travel routes, and remain a critical piece of sign. When bucks lose a doe, they travel through the landscape on routes where they're comfortable…and those routes are usually marked with rubs!