Bucks on the Brink of Breaking Out

Overall Activity Status: Warm temperatures early in the week, followed by two days of extreme high winds, have kept deer sighting on the low side. Though the wind has finally subsided, the weather experts are calling for temperatures near 80 degrees this weekend. Still, deer need to feed and pre-rut behavior will also really start to kick-in soon.

I expect the slow activity to make a dramatic 180-degree turn come Monday when cooler temps are forecast. Nebraska's Kurt Kaiser nailed what I believe is behind the October lull when he said "Obviously this time of year really depends on weather. You get a front moving through and a drop in temps and deer really start moving and acting rutty. When it heats back up, things slow down."

Fighting: I'm not hearing many reports of any serious fighting between bucks, but just because hunters aren't seeing bucks battle doesn't mean it's not happening. A few deer are showing up on camera with broken tines and battle wounds, so it seems there is some scuffling going on, probably after hours.

Rubs/Scrapes: Nearly to a man, my contacts have all reported an increase in rut-related deer sign popping up. In South Dakota, Mike Bosma says he's seeing a few rubs and scrapes showing up where he hunts East River. The presence of most of this fresh sign in staging areas and along bed-to-feed routes leads me to believe bucks aren't out cruising just yet.

Daytime movement: As I mentioned earlier, weather is playing a big part in the lack of deer out during the daylight hours. What little break in the wind there was happened overnight. Same goes for the high temperatures. A few guys who were out traveling back roads reported seeing lone deer, generally does, on their feet mid-day on Wednesday.

Estrous signs: None reported. Does and fawns are still together.

X Factor No. 1: It's hunting season, and not just for deer. Waterfowl and pheasant seasons are starting to open up across the region, with several Opening Days scheduled for Saturday, October 20. This increased pressure in the fields is sure to disturb some deer. If you're hunting public land, plan to stay on stand a little longer than normal and you just might catch a buck that got bumped from his bed by a bird hunter.

X Factor No. 2: Although we've had a couple of hard frosts, EHD is still a concern of nearly every hunter I talk to. Most are attributing the lack of deer activity to the disease, which has killed off a reported 5,818 deer in my home state alone, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks EHD Web page.

And that's just deer that have been reported. In eastern Kansas, one outfitter I know is encouraging his booked hunters to stay home this season, as they've found three of their best bucks dead and others have gone missing. With more and more corn out and more hunters hitting the woods, it's going to be interesting to see if some of those missing bucks show up.

If this buck in the above photo looks familiar, it's because I posted of photo of just its head in an EHD-related post a few weeks ago. I got this pic via e-mail along with information that the buck was not found at Lake McConaughey as originally reported, but instead in a cornfield near Bridgeport, Nebraska. Either way, it's a tough loss and another reminder of how EHD is affecting area hunters this year.