Overall Activity Status: I was out of town last week, but my wife hunted almost every evening. Deer activity was pretty slow until week’s end when a cold snap and some freshly shelled cornfields really got deer up and on their feet. I’ve hunted the past two evenings in a row and have seen double-digit deer numbers, including some nice bucks, on both sits.
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s archery season opened on Saturday. Brandon Gavrock, a conservation officer with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, emphasized the word slow when asked about opening weekend. “A buddy of mine shot a decent buck, but for the most part, hunters I talked with weren’t seeing much of anything,” Gavrock says. “We have an absolute bumper acorn crop down here this year, and that has deer scattered everywhere up in the timber. You could turn an ankle on the acorns trying to walk across some of these hardwood ridges right now.”
Fighting: Remember this scene from your childhood. Two roughneck boys on the playground, wrestling. It starts out friendly enough. Then someone pushes too hard. Or throws a rock. Or swings a fist. Regardless of the catalyst, one or both of the boys ends up pissed off, and an all-out fist-fight ensues.
I saw a buck fight progress very much in that fashion yesterday afternoon. Several bucks converged onto a picked cornfield an hour before dark. I don’t know if you’d call it a loose bachelor group so much as just several deer wanting to eat at the same spot at the same time. Two of the bucks quickly squared up, and at first, the sparring was gentle, early season stuff. Then it was as if a tine poked a soft part of a nose, and someone got really mad, really fast. The ensuing fight turned violent, with the bucks thrashing about in the corn stalks and snort-wheezing loud enough to hear from 150 yards away. The bigger of the two bucks (both were 8-pointers) finally pushed the smaller one to the ground before the smaller buck decided he’d had enough and retreated. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a better fight in the deer woods, even in November.
Rub making: As mentioned, I haven’t been traipsing around the woods much in the past week, but rub making should be on a steady rise right now.
Scrape making: Gavrock reported finding his first scrape, albeit a small one, while patrolling the Tennessee woods over the weekend. I saw one of the bucks from yesterday actively work a licking branch immediately after stepping into the field.
Chasing: Nothing yet.
Daytime movement: Though some of these sparky pre-rut signs are encouraging and exciting, the best movement is still limited to the final hour or two of daylight. It’s still short, t-shirt and Croc weather during the day in this region.
Estrous signs: None yet
X Factor: I found it especially interesting that Gavrock mentioned the bumper acorn crop down in his portion of Tennessee. He’s in middle Tennessee, only a couple hours away from me. The mast crop here is very spotty, and I think that’s played a large part in the continued daylight deer usage of food plots, crop fields and bait sites in this area. Most west Kentucky hunters I’ve talked to lately are still seeing plenty of deer in those areas. But Gavrock says those Tennessee deer, as expected, are scattered about in the acorns. It just goes to show that deer activity is _always_local.
If you’re in the Mid-South region and have a report on deer movement, I’d love to hear about. Leave me a comment below.