A First Deer, and Signs of the Pre-Rut

Overall Activity Status: This week's weather has been turbulent, with warm, windy days dominating the forecast. Despite that, deer activity has been decent, with a noticeable shift away from the mast and back to food sources in fields. Last weekend was Kentucky's youth season, and that windy weather pattern was in play all weekend. Hunting was tough.

Still, my nephew, Carter Adams, who made a trip all the way from Florida to Kentucky in search of his first deer, managed to shoot a doe Sunday morning. "I told Carter not to expect to see much because it was so windy and warm that morning," Larry Adams, my father-in-law said. "We had a doe in the field just before daylight, and I was just hoping she'd hang around long enough for Carter to shoot. Well, just about the time it got light enough, she walked into the woods. I kept my fingers crossed that she'd come back, and sure enough she did, 30 minutes later. Carter made a good shot."
That's Larry, better known as Papaw, and Carter in the photo.

Fighting: Fighting is definitely on the rise. I had a dozen or more photos of fighting bucks when I pulled a card from a trail camera last weekend; one of them is shown below. I plan to do a lot of horn rattling the next two weeks.

Rub making: Rubbing activity is heavy. I'm seeing fresh rubs on field edges and travel corridors virtually every time I hit the woods.

Scrape making: Though I'd reported a good number of smaller, early scrapes, the heavy activity of the pre-rut doesn't seem to be here just yet (although I admittedly haven't been in the woods in a couple days). I expect to be seeing those big, car-hood-sized scrapes in abundance any day now.

Chasing: Not much to report here yet, but give it a full week.

Daytime movement: Dad has called me twice within the past week while on his way to work to report young bucks crossing roads and wide-open fields in the broad daylight. "The little ones are starting to act a little stupid," he says.

Estrous signs: Again, not much to report here just yet.

X Factor: Kentucky's two-day early muzzleloader season opens this weekend. It falls several days later in the calendar than in years past, and the forecast is for high pressure and cool weather. Given the rise of pre-rut activity, and the gradual shift of deer away from the mast and back to the fields, I'm predicting a big harvest--possibly even a record for that two-day season. And no doubt, a big buck or two will fall.