Overall Activity Status**: A cold front pushing out of Canada mid-week brought temperatures below freezing for much of the Great Plains region, with some of the northern states catching a dusting of snow. A second front is scheduled to move through over the weekend with more much-needed moisture in the forecast. I got into a stand for the first time this season, though I’m just south of the Kansas border in Oklahoma. Still, what I’m seeing here isn’t much different than what most of my other contacts are reporting–bachelor groups are all but broke up completely, with bucks striking out on their own in preparation of the rut. I saw two different mature deer from my stand Thursday night about an hour apart.
Rubs/Scrapes: Studies have been keeping South Dakota college student Spencer Neuharth from the stand for the most part, but he did make it out last weekend only to find two new rubs pop up near one his stands. Down in southeastern Kansas, Nathan Oehlert had a close encounter with “a giant” while filming a buddy this week, but couldn’t put it together. He did report seeing some new scrapes opened up recently.
Fighting: No major fighting going on in the past week, but I did hear what sounded like a buck working over a tree pretty good. Expect to see bucks going at it starting any day now.
Chasing: None reported. Still a little early for bucks to be chasing, unless an early estrous doe is in the area. I predict I’ll hear a report that confirms this within the next 10 days.
Estrous Signs: I had a mature doe under my stand in Oklahoma that still had fawns nearby. Several sources reported seeing spotted fawns still with does in the past week or so.
X Factor: Finally, a hard frost has covered much of the region, hopefully knocking back the midges and slowing down the spread of EHD. This buck was reportedly found dead near the Clear Creek Wildlife Area in western Nebraska. I haven’t been able to confirm this, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Though Clear Creek is incredibly pressured, there is enough thick cover there for a buck of this quality to live out his days without getting spotted. Unfortunately, Mother Nature hung her tag on her before a local hunter could.
The cold fronts have also brought strong winds to the region. My first day at Croton Creek Ranch near Cheyenne, Okla., followed a morning where high winds locked deer activity down tight. Luckily, the winds died down a bit by the time I climbed into the stand that afternoon, but they were still blowing from the north-northeast, which is about 180 degrees opposite of what is the norm there in October. If you find yourself faced with a windy day, make plans to be in the woods the minute it dies down as deer will most likely be on the move.