Overall Activity Status: Weather changes fast around here this time of year. After several days of outstanding deer weather in early November, Mid-South hunters were hit with a spell of abnormally warm air, high winds, and severe thunderstorms that put a major damper on daylight deer sightings. Still, with peak breeding underway, some big bucks fell over the weekend.
Fighting: The buck my wife killed early last week had an obvious tine gouge in his side from another buck. Bucks are definitely more concerned with breeding than fighting right now, but fights that do occur will be serious brawls.
Rub making: Activity seems to have scaled back a bit in the last week. I’ve been spending some time around the “skinning shed” at Snipe Creek Lodge the past few days, and have had the opportunity to see numerous hunter-killed bucks (including the one in the photo, taken on the 16th). Only a few of these bucks had shards of bark around their bases.
Scrape making: As with the rub-making, scraping activity tends to decline a bit during peak breeding.
Chasing: With does becoming more willing, bigger bucks are now pursuing them. I’m not seeing the frantic chasing activity of a week ago, which consisted mostly of young bucks. Instead, it’s more of a quality over quantity scenario, with older bucks doing much of the chasing right now.
Daytime movement: As mentioned, the warm, stormy weather put a serious damper on deer activity over the weekend, but a trend of cooler weather is in the forecast for this week, with another severe front blowing through Friday evening. Most gun seasons are open in the Mid-South now (Tennessee opens Saturday), so the weather has good timing. Still, with many bucks locked down with does right now and for several days to come, expect deer activity to be a bit slower than it was a week ago.
Estrous signs: Peak breeding is taking place right now along this latitude of the Mid-South. It’s still a couple weeks away down in West Tennessee.
X Factor: Lock-down can be a frustrating time of year to hunt. Big bucks hide away in thickets with hot does for days at a time to breed, and seeing them can be tough. But it’s also one of the best times to kill a big deer. Those bucks know the does are in estrous right now, and their window won’t last long. They aren’t careless, but breeding is the focus. If a hot doe moves during daylight, a big deer will follow her. Continue to focus on the areas with doe activity, put in the hours, and stay ready to shoot. The lives of so many big deer are saved this time of year simply because hunters aren’t ready when their 10-second opportunity arises.