Slightly Past Peak, Mature Bucks Are on the Move

Overall Activity Status: Weather conditions have been favorable for good deer movement overall; it's been cool and not overly windy, with mostly sunny skies. However, many mature bucks are laying up with estrous does and it takes patience to find them. Several states have opened firearms seasons and hunting pressure has affected deer movement in some areas.

Fighting: Some buck brawls are taking place, and lone and wandering bucks are coming to rattling antlers. As mature bucks search hard for additional does to breed, they may stray from their home ranges and bump into strange bucks; these encounters can lead to serious fighting.

Rub making: I've seen few fresh rubs during recent hunts in Minnesota and Wisconsin. However, I expect more rubs to open up as bucks travel hard to find the last estrous does.

Scrape making: Very few fresh scrapes are being made now. But, just as with rubs, I expect this to change, mainly in the form of bucks re-working scrapes opened weeks ago.

Chasing: Virtually every buck I've seen in the last week has been in close proximity to a doe. And bucks that encounter does (particularly at food sources) are either checking them out or running them hard. We're slightly past the breeding peak now; most bucks have bred at least one doe and are looking for more.

Daytime movement: As reported above, conditions have been good to excellent for daytime deer movement. It's supposed to get slightly warmer next week, but I don't anticipate temps getting uncomfortable for deer.

Estrous signs: As noted above, bucks are often in the company of does. Winona, Minnesota bowhunter Billy Jerowski shot a giant 8-point with his bow this week. The buck was trailing a doe at midday. After the shot, Jerowski remained in the stand for another hour and saw four different bucks; all appeared to be trailing the same doe that Jerowski had seen earlier.

X-Factor: Firearms season. Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin gun hunters all take to the woods in the next few days. Expect this huge influx of hunters to influence deer movement--and where rutting activity takes place--in a big way. Set up near security cover and along travel corridors to take advantage of hunters pushing deer away from the fringes of habitat. The Missouri buck shown in the picture above--a 6-year old 10 point that should score in the high 150s--was shot by Elton Baldy, who was hunting with Tri-State Outfitting during the first week of Missouri's firearms season.