Overall activity status: I hunted the Texas Panhandle on Jan. 4 with friends. It was a frigid afternoon, with temps dropping well below freezing, and strong north winds. Typically just before a major front moves through, I see lots of deer movement. But on that afternoon it was the opposite. We saw only three does at a spot where I’ve been seeing four to six bucks regularly. The same predictable bucks were there on the trail camera the previous two days, but were obviously lying low directly in front of the incoming storm.
Fighting: Broken tines are common throughout my area. Sparring and posturing are still likely in South Texas, where the rut is still active.
Rub making: Primarily old sign at this stage of the season, but frustrated bucks can turn a tree to sawdust at any time. If you find fresh rubs this late in the season, the buck that made it is likely close by and focused on a food source he won’t abandon.
Scrapes: None reported.
Chasing: In South Texas, Temple Ranch manager Robert Sanders says, “Second rut really kicking in down here. Bucks going crazy again.” If you are lucky enough to be hunting this week, you should see bucks on the prowl.
Daytime movement: My friend Shawn Hoover has been monitoring a dandy split-brow-tine buck in western Oklahoma all season, but mostly by nighttime trail camera images. In the past week, the buck has visited a bait site in daylight every morning and every afternoon. Cold weather and the buck’s need for food surely brought on the sudden daylight appearances. Shawn and his son, Dylan, have until January 15 to try to get the buck with archery tackle.
Estrous sign: Right now in south Texas, any time you see a doe it’s wise to stay alert for a buck that may be trailing her. A doe that constantly watches her back trail or twitches her tail a lot is likely being followed.
X factor: In such cold temperatures, concentrate your efforts near food sources like corn feeders, wheat fields, or harvested milo and corn fields with some residue grain still on the ground.