I’ve been out of town for a week, and it seems I’ve returned to a different world, at least as far as the deer woods are concerned. Although Mid-South activity was definitely on the upswing when I left, a variety of indicators suggest the full-on seeking and chasing phase of the rut is just around the corner.

First and foremost, I wasn’t just out of town wasting time during such a pivotal point in deer season. Instead, I was antelope hunting in Colorado; as Kentucky’s two-day early muzzleloader season opened last Saturday morning, I was boarding a plane en route to Denver. By the time I’d settled in at camp, I listened to the voicemails on my phone. One was from my dad: “Will, shot a big buck. I’ll send you a picture.”

Turns out, Dad and my younger brother Matt didn’t see much while hunting that Saturday morning, but deer were up and moving for the evening sit. Dad was hunting a box blind over a food plot (the same stand where he shot his big buck last year), and to hear him tell it, little bucks were cruising through the field all evening long.

“I don’t know how many I actually saw; some of the same bucks crossed through the field several times,” Dad said. “There were spikes, forkhorns, and at least one small 8-pointer.”

It was still relatively early in the evening when this buck–a handsome 10-pointer with a kicker–stepped into the field. Dad shot the buck through both shoulders, and it didn’t make it far before piling up. You’ll have to forgive his lack of a smile in the photo. It was late at night, and he’d been dragging and loading for a while.

The reports didn’t end there. Michelle was hunting another farm not far away. With only a doe tag in her pocket (which she managed to fill), she watched as a nice 8-pointer checked the field for does in broad daylight. Fortunately, she did have her camera in hand, and managed to snap a few pictures, like the one shown here.


But perhaps the funniest report of buck activity came while I was standing in the security line of the Denver airport on my way home yesterday morning. I’d been there a while (18 hours) and my phone rang. It was Michelle, but when I answered it, there was a pause before a shout: “Dammit! I just hit a deer!”

A starry-eyed 6-pointer had run across the road just as she was looking at her phone to dial my number. Fortunately, other than a scratch to her bumper, there wasn’t much damage to Michelle’s truck. But it did illustrate a good point: the shoulders of rural highways are good indicators of rut activity. And deer are starting to pile up.

This next week should be good, and given the cold weather that’s forecast, possibly one of the best bowhunting weeks of the season. Good luck out there. Just be careful driving to your stand.