Overall activity status: In the words of Chain Ranch guide Jerick Henley, things are “heating up.” In an e-mail earlier this week from south-central Kansas, he said “bucks are deep into the seeking phase with noses on the ground checking every doe they can find. This is causing them to leave their core areas and begin showing themselves at all hours of the day.” He also sent along this photo of a hunter who traveled to Kansas from New York for a six-day hunt and tagged this beautiful 160-class buck within the first 30 minutes of his hunt on Monday.
Fighting: Bucks are definitely in a fighting mood. Last Saturday Clete Frazell had an encounter with an aggressive buck in central Kansas. “I had one of the neatest experiences I have had as a deer hunter,” said Frazell. “I had seen zero deer at 8:30 when I looked up and saw a mature buck coming across a pasture straight toward my decoy. He snort wheezed at 10 yards, and proceeded to knock the crap out of my decoy sending parts flying everywhere.” Frazell predicts the rut will be in full swing within the next week or so, but right now it’s hit or miss. “Just being in the right place at the right time as I didn’t see another buck the rest of the weekend, but a ton of does.”
Rub/Scrape Making: Clete’s brother Curt says things are still a bit quiet where he hunts in Kansas, but he did some rubs and scrapes. “If it’s going, the hot doe was not on my spots,” he reports.
Daytime movement: As Henley mentioned and contacts have confirmed, bucks have been spotted out cruising during the day.
Estrous signs: Neil Davies of Hornady reported in from the Republican River valley in southern Nebraska. “Bucks are chasing does for sure. I saw some three-year year olds with does sniffing and chasing, and I saw one mature buck that was fixated on a trail and oblivious to me. So, I would say that in that area, the rut is on, but I’m not sure the does are standing yet.
X Factor: Weather – Earlier this week rain and snow pushed through the region, but all signs point to a warm weekend, which might limit daytime movement, particularly in the eastern half of the Great Plains region.
Harvest: South of Kansas City, Andy Jeffries of Twin Chimney Outfitters says things are kicking off there with bucks chasing the last couple of days and “some new shooters starting to show on cameras,” but he adds “[there are] a lot of crops still in around here which is causing us some headaches.” I’ll be hunting with Jeffries late next week, so I told him to hop on a combine and give those farmers a hand before I arrive.