Overall Activity Status: Action is really heating up the past few days in the central and northern parts of the region. Bucks are on their feet, covering ground, flirting with does and making themselves visible. I saw five bucks one evening at a corn feeder. Every one had at least one broken point and two were missing an entire antler beam!

Fighting: I have not seen any fighting, but lots of “posturing.” These bucks are circling each other, hackles on end, not very tolerant of each other when does are around. And all the broken tines I’m seeing certainly indicate they have been fighting.

Rub Making: Lots of rubs are visible, although I have not witnessed any bucks making new ones.

Scrape Making: In the past few days, I’ve watched multiple bucks work scrapes. The most memorable was a wide, 120-inch 8-point that stood 15 yards from my ground blind. I sprinkled Tinks’ #69 doe-in-heat lure in several scrapes and on the overhanging limbs of scrapes by my blind before I started my afternoon hunt. At sunset, that wide buck raked his antlers in the overhanging mesquite limbs, rubbed his eyes and forehead on the branches, pawed the dusty ground like an angry bull, then splayed his back legs and urinated in one of the scrapes I’d freshened up. I could have shot him easily with the bow, but am waiting for one bigger. Right after that, he trailed a doe in the brush, neck half-cocked and lip curled.

Chasing: Chasing reports have really picked up. I’ve watched multiple bucks chase, some half-hearted, and others like a cutting horse. The first time you see a big, mature buck chasing is a solid indication the rut is really happening. I saw that in the Texas Panhandle on November 9. The buck was a huge, mature 150-plus 8-point. I’ve been looking for him all fall, having seen him last year as a 140-class 8-point. He got bigger this year, but unfortunately one brow tine is busted. His good brow tine is 7 inches long. I think he’s 6 ½ years old this season. He was chasing, sniffing and trailing does all over the creek bottom until 9 a.m.

Daytime Movement: Cooler weather is expected this week, and I predict the hunting will be excellent. Last week, when it was 80 degrees or hotter, I still saw bucks every morning and evening. Now that temps will drop below freezing in the mornings and be pleasant in the afternoons, I’m betting the deer really respond.

Estrous Sign: This is a good time of year to use a drag soaked in doe-in-heat lure. Drag it around your stand, then hang soaked wicks at deer’s nose level from branches in a couple of shooting lanes. The thinking is a cruising buck will find a scent line, follow it and stand in your shooting window for the shot.

“X” Factor: My friend Brandt Vermillion shot the buck pictured above on November 10 in the morning from a tree stand on our lease in the eastern Texas Panhandle. Brandt made the 20-yard shot and the buck piled up 90 yards away. The buck is one we’d seen on trail cameras since July, but in the last month he was caught on cameras at three different blinds in a space of approximately 1½ miles. The buck’s unique rack has a third beam on the left side. Brandt got sweet redemption, having shot an arrow right over the same buck’s back at a different blind a half-mile away one week ago!