Draper: The Big Boys Are Starting To Strut

Nov. 3--Overall Activity Status: Lots of friends in the woods on the backside of the Hunter's Moon, but no reports of any big bucks down as of today. From what I've been hearing, deer activity has been spotty over the past week as bucks shift their patterns. Movement has not been consistent, with some evening activity reported and lots of nocturnal pictures showing up on trail cameras.

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Fighting:** The little bucks that had been scrapping for the past week to 10 days have given way to the big boys that are starting to strut their stuff. Kurt Grove sent in this trail cam pic from central Nebraska of two good bucks in a late-night battle. Denton Rich of Mule Creek Outfitters in south-central Kansas says bucks are getting a little less tolerant of each other.

Rub making: While walking up some pheasants during Nebraska's opener on Saturday, I came across a hackberry sapling that had been on the losing end of a fight with a buck. This was in a strip of grass bordering a sunflower field where I haven't seen any deer lately, meaning this buck is on the move. I expect to see a lot more rubs pop up in this and other areas in the coming days.

Scrape making: A few hunters are reporting hot scrapes that are seeing lots of overnight activity, along with fresh scrapes opening up, indicating an area with a good density of active deer. Grove hunted over a scrape last Friday and Saturday that had been freshened overnight, with a new scrape that had been opened nearby. That said, some areas that seemed hot a few weeks ago haven't seen fresh activity.
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Chasing:** While checking trail cams last Tuesday, I watched a tall, long-tined 4x4 bust a doe out of a coulee and then run her for a bit. John Lubeck passed along a second-hand report from South Dakota of some friends who watched bucks run does all day long last Saturday. Of course, when Lubeck went out Sunday he got skunked. So goes the pre-rut, when it's on one day and off the next.
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Daytime movement:** Reports of daytime movement is sporadic and localized as we approach the peak of the rut. Like Lubeck, Grove is hearing good second-hand reports, but not seeing much daytime activity where he's hunting. Trail cams filled with early morning and late evening pics are backing up these reports.
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Estrous signs:** The buck I saw chasing last week was lip curling, leading me to believe that particular doe may have been hot, if not exactly ready to breed. Rich reported seeing a big buck checking does in south-central Kansas.