Whitetail Hunting photo

Overall activity status: I wish I had better news, but my experiences this weekend and those of friends confirm the October lull is real. I’m hunting one specific buck, an old 10-point mule deer, but the scenario seems to be the same for whitetails and the big-eared deer. My target buck was on my trail camera 30 minutes after shooting light, after I’d sat in the blind for 2 ½ hours. The next morning, he was at 20 yards in my headlights half a mile from my blind, but never showed up at the blind in daylight. I think a significant drop in temperature would make some of those older bucks more visible, but for now they are vampires.

Fighting: No reports of serious fights, but bucks are sparring and I’ve seen several trail camera pictures of young bucks testing each other. Late October is typically when things turn more serious, as the real rut gets closer. Rattling and grunt calls will be valuable tools as we get closer to Halloween.

Rub making: I saw four young bucks just this morning. They were close enough that I could count their eyelashes through my 10X Leupold binoculars. All of them had fresh green and yellow bark in their antler bases, so somewhere nearby a few mesquite trees got shredded.

Scrapes: I have yet to see a scrape this season, but friends report a few on field edges.

Chasing: No chasing reported anywhere yet. Historically, mid-November is when hunters report first sightings of bucks chasing does in central and north Texas. The rut typically starts even later, early to mid-December, in deep south Texas.

Daytime movement: One friend describes the weather this time of year as bipolar–cold mornings and hot afternoons. I’m wearing a jacket and beanie at sunrise and shorts and a t-shirt by the afternoon. I’m still frustrated by all the nocturnal movement of bucks in my area. That first and last hour are still the best times to catch a big buck out moving, but I think the colder mornings present slightly higher odds of seeing one.

Estrous sign: None reported. On the plus side, I have seen and others have reported a good fawn crop, lots of twins, for both whitetails and mule deer throughout the region.

X factor: The hunting is slow now, with daytime high temperatures still 75 to 90 degrees, but once we get a hard freeze and temperatures dip down, expect the hunting to get better. The last week in October, especially if the weather is cold, is always prime time to see bucks on their feet in pre-rut mode.