Overall activity status: The transition from the velvet stage to hard horn continues, and hunters are starting to observe the first changes in attitude that suggest bucks are ready to break up bachelor groups and spread out a bit to establish their own turf.

Rub making: Hunters in all four Great Plains states are reporting the shedding of velvet. Mike DeGeus of Rochester, Minn., traveled to North Dakota for the start of that state’s bow season and saw mature bucks every evening of his weeklong hunt. Most were in velvet at the beginning of the week, but by the end of his trip more than half had shed. DeGeus saw evidence of bucks thrashing trees to polish horns, but there are no serious rubs to report yet.

Fighting: No real battles yet, but DeGeus did observe some mature bucks still in velvet starting to establish dominance and even saw a big velvet buck pushing around a smaller buck already in hard horn. “Definitely an aggressive deer that’ll do that,” DeGeus says.

Scrape making: Nothing to report.

Chasing: Not yet.

Daytime movement: Martin Kelsay of Hunter’s Headquarters (402-274-5165) in Auburn, Neb., observes that the full moon in September doesn’t seem to limit daytime movement like it does later in the fall. “I’m seeing movement during the day, and the trail cameras are proving it,” Kelsay says. “We’re getting pictures all day long.”

Estrous signs: None yet.

X Factor: A plunge of cold Canadian air should make things interesting heading into the weekend. The forecast calls for freezing temperatures in the northern Great Plains with a risk of frost farther south. That could provoke more activity from both deer and hunters. Reports suggest Nebraska bowhunters have greeted the early start to that state’s archery season with a yawn, preferring to wait for cooler weather. Looks like it’s on the way.