Overall activity status: Bucks are feeding actively in the evenings and mornings, but taking advantage of a flush of new food sources: The acorn crop is heavy in some areas, and soft mast like apples and persimmons are starting to be a factor. Still, lush alfalfa fields continue to draw deer in farm country.
Fighting: As velvet shed nears completion, I expect more buck fights to break out. Bachelor groups are breaking up and as dispersing bucks seek new territories, they bump into other bucks they don’t know. Also, bucks seem anxious to test their mettle as their antlers harden. I received a trail cam pick this week of two velvet yearlings sparring, as if they could sense their antlers were soon to be weapons.
Rub making: Expect to see new rubs–especially near food sources–as more bucks enter hard antler. Though much of this rubbing will be on saplings and brush, I did find the first big rub of the season on a recent scouting trip. The leg-thick elm was deeply gouged and located in the same travel corridor where I found several scrapes last fall. I credit this savage rub to a mature buck I hope to see this season.
Scrape making: Some tentative scrapes are being opened and, like so many rubs, are being found near food sources. A Wisconsin friend reported finding two scrapes near a remote alfalfa field and another on a logging road leading to that field. Usually, concentrations of scrapes in the early season are the work of a single mature buck.
Daytime movement: Temps have been very pleasant across much of the region, with morning and evening hours feeling very fall-like. Deer are moving well in daylight hours, for the most part. Mature bucks, as always, seem to linger until the light is low in the evening.
Estrous signs: None observed or reported this week.
X-Factor: As reported in my previous blog post, an early corn harvest is going to be a major factor in many a hunter’s game plan in the weeks ahead. This can be a good news/bad news scenario, depending on your situation. In fields with waste grain left by the combine, feeding activity can be heavy and take place throughout the day. In areas where deer rely on corn for cover, the early harvest will kick them to secondary cover sources, requiring hunters to adjust stand/blind locations to stay with the deer. This past weekend marked the archery opener in several states here; hopefully my inbox will contain some great photos this week. Good luck to all!