Rut Reporter Will Brantley of Murray, Kentucky, knows the region well. He spends 40 to 50 days each season in the Mid-South whitetail woods. Brantley shot his first deer at age 10 with a sidelock muzzleloader. States covered: KY, TN, WV, VA, NC.
Overall Activity Status Nov. 16: Rutting activity (actually, deer activity in general) was slower this weekend than it has been the last two weeks, at least in my neck of the woods. We had a long warm spell last week, and the calendar says deer should be nearing the peak breeding phase of the rut right now in this area, so slower activity was to be expected.
Fighting: Reports of rattling success have likewise slowed over the past few days. Though a big buck certainly won’t put up with much intrusion from another buck this time of year, he likely won’t go out of his way for a fight if he already has a hot doe at his side, either.
Rub making: Rubbing activity is holding steady; I’m still finding lots of new rubs
Scrape making:** I saw a bunch of scrapes this weekend that seemed to have become inactive, as they were covered with leaves and void of fresh tracks.
Chasing: My wife and I hunted nearly every daylight hour of this weekend. We didn’t see any “shooter” bucks chasing does, but we did see several young bucks chasing does, including the small buck in the video, which ran two does right in front of us at 9 a.m. Sunday (although, by the time I got the camera on him, he seemed to have given up).
Daytime movement:** Saturday morning was warm and windy as the leading edge of a cold front approached. We were in the box blind at daylight and finally saw the first deer at 2:30 in the afternoon, after the front had passed, temperatures had fallen and a light rain had set in. After that, deer activity was steady until dark. Daylight camera footage was slow all last week (save for the morning of November 10–more on that in another post).
Estrous signs: Sightings of mature does were limited this weekend, which could well mean many of them are in estrous and being tended by bucks back in the thickets. We saw several lone fawns–button bucks and young does alike. Hunting buddies reported the same thing.
X Factor: Seems like a large portion of the does in western Kentucky have come into estros. It looks as though that glorious (at least for hunters) seeking phase of the rut is coming to an end, and bucks and does are getting serious about the task of making little deer now.
That certainly doesn’t mean you won’t still see a big buck on the move, searching for estrous does, and it doesn’t mean those dramatic chases are over, either. My buddy Corey Chipps, who actually hunts just north of the “Mid-South,” 15 minutes across the Kentucky state line near Evansville, Indiana, shot the bruiser in the photo shortly after daylight Saturday. The big buck, along with two smaller bucks, was dogging four does and made the mistake of stopping 20 yards from Corey’s stand.