Overall Activity Status: Last week was hot. Friends hunting central Texas report temperatures over 70 degrees. The week of Thanksgiving is typically an excellent week to hunt deer in middle and north Texas, but warm weather likely subdued activity this year.
Fighting: The number of bucks I’ve seen this year with broken racks is unbelievable. On one lease I hunt, all the hit-list “shooters” now appear broken to some degree, according to recent trail camera images. In one of my favorite river bottoms, a winding one-plus mile stretch of good habitat in the Texas Panhandle, I’ve seen 11 different bucks this season. They range in size from 1 ½-year-old small fries to 5 ½-year-old studs. Six of those 11 have busted-up racks. Naturally, the big ones I want are the ones missing the most bone. The buck-to-doe ratio is 1 to 1, or maybe even tilted more to bucks. So there is lots of competition and fighting for breeding rights and rank in the herd.
Rub Making: I never get tired of seeing shredded bark in deer country. A recent midday walk near a cottonwood creek produced more rub sightings on small mesquites. None of it smoking fresh, but it’s certainly from this season.
Scrape Making: I checked a couple of known scrapes last week. They were both cluttered with leaves and twigs from the blowing winds. Nothing had freshened them up in a few days.
Chasing: I sat near a corn feeder in the evening on November 25. Four bucks came to the corn, the biggest a broken 140-class ten point. At sunset, a doe and two fawns came in. All the bucks forgot the corn and started sniffing and chasing. The big buck chased the doe while a couple of dink bucks chased the fawns. All the bucks were grunting like pigs and the big one snort-wheezed once at a younger buck. After five minutes of this, they all quit chasing and the boys and girls all ate corn side by side, in peace, with no further harassment.
Daytime Movement: Despite the bright moon, the first and last hour of daylight seem productive. In my experience, bucks that were nocturnal earlier in the season tend to become less so as we get later in the season, particularly during the rut and post-rut and during cold weather.
Estrous Sign:** I’ve only seen one doe that I felt was surely “hot.” A brute of an old 8-point, 150 inches or so with a busted brow tine, was guarding her. I was spying through a spotting scope from a mesa top. The buck stood by that doe for over one hour, until it was pitch dark. He barely moved in the course of that hour. That’s what most people call “lock down,” when a buck is babysitting a doe, usually for 1-3 days, waiting to breed her. The pair will often hole up and move little in that time frame.
X Factor: Peak of the full moon is November 28. Of course deer will move under that bright spotlight in the dark, but I think it’s a mistake to not hunt on a given day just because of the moon. Weather patterns, phase of the rut, and the simple matter of having a day off to hunt are more important! In 2007, I arrowed a big 157-inch 9-point on the day of the full moon. He came by my tripod stand in the afternoon during the last five minutes of legal shooting time.