Overall Activity Status: Much like the weeks leading up to peak rut, post-rut activity has been highly localized. While most hunters have been saying deer movement has been low, a couple of contacts have encountered rutting bucks in the past week. This is most likely caused by a few lone does coming into estrus a bit later than the majority of the herd.
Fighting: Earlier this week I mentioned buck fights would most likely be a rare occurrence this late in the rut, but apparently deer don’t read. That’s one explanation for two separate instances of bucks caught battling in the past week. Over at Greg Wagner’s Nebraskland blog there are a couple of trail cam photos taken early Wednesday morning of two bucks twisting horns. From the looks of the bigger bucks neck, he’s still in full rut mode.
Scrapes: From the sounds of it, rut-related deer sign has gone dry in much of the region. Expect to encounter a fresh scrape now and then as bucks start cruising for late-estrous does, but for the most part scrape-season is nearly over.
Daytime movement: With the full moon shining bright this week, you wouldn’t expect to see much daytime movement, but again, deer don’t read the playbook. I’ve heard from several people who have spotted bucks cruising at mid-day. Mark Nelsen killed a nice buck in northeast Nebraska while filming for Cabela’s Ultimate Adventures television.
“We got lucky and killed a nice mature buck, but did so when most hunters were taking a break and not in the field,” said Nelsen. “I’m a huge believer in all-day or as close to all-day hunts as you can stand during the rut. We had done some aggressive calling about a half hour before the deer showed himself, walking right into our treestand setup at midday. Shot him at 45 yards.”
Estrous signs: As the rut winds down, does are gathering in herds and hitting the fields en masse to feed. Denton Rich of Mule Creek Outfitters in southwest Kansas sent in the above photo of his son Cameron with his nice buck.
“The peak of the rut was the same fast and furious event as always, still some bucks locked down with does but lessens every day,” said Rich. “Bucks are still actively checking does for heat when there not resting, and with the recent cooler weather have started showing back up at feeders and fields. My son Cameron killed his first crossbow buck Saturday evening with a perfectly placed bolt at less than 10 yards. Words can’t reproduce how exciting that was.”