Overall Activity Status: There is definitely an upswing in movement across the region. Despite warm weather–75 to 80 degrees or higher in many parts of Texas–hunters are still seeing good bucks despite summer weather. The first and last hour of the day are still prime time. November is “the” month in central and north Texas, while south Texas usually sees the best rut action in December.
Fighting: I have no new reports of actual fights witnessed, but multiple reports of bucks in central and north Texas responding to rattling, grunt calls and snort-wheeze calls. It’s pre-rut and a good time to try calling. Expect responses to calling to only get better the closer we get to Thanksgiving. I passed a fine 140-class 10-point last Friday morning that had a broken brow tine. It’s the second buck in that creek bottom I’ve seen missing a brow tine. Expect more broken tines as we progress through the rut.
Rub Making: In high-traffic areas like creek bottoms, there are multiple rubs along well-traveled trails. Bucks being killed now have lots of gnarly bark shreds in the bumps and burrs of antler bases.
Scrape Making: I checked a couple of scrapes I found a week ago. Both scrapes were larger in size than most I’ve seen this year, about the size of a car tire in circumference, and the ground was freshly pawed.
Chasing: This is the one detail I find most important to increasing your odds of killing a good buck, because chasing translates into bucks moving and being more visible. There are way more reports of chasing, from middle Texas through the Panhandle, this week. Mostly reports of small bucks chasing, but a few sightings of big mature bucks sniffing and trailing does. I’ve always heard that you see the small bucks chasing first, but the very first time you see a big mature buck seriously courting a doe, it’s time to quit the job and hunt every day possible! The big boys seem to know not to waste any energy until a doe is truly ready, or very close to it.
Daytime Movement: Not only more reports of daylight action, but new bucks showing up where there were only the “same old faces” two weeks ago. Trail cameras set near corn feeders document these new bucks. The rut causes bucks to cover ground looking for receptive does. A new buck could easily cross a boundary fence and enter your property in the month of November, especially if you have lots of girls on your side of the fence.
Estrous Signs: No reports of a buck actually mounting a doe yet, but I suspect that sort of sighting will happen soon.
“X” Factor: My friend, Ty Day, shot the whopper buck he’s posing with in the photo here. He shot the 184-inch monster from a ladder stand in a wooded creek in Texas. The old buck, aged at 7 ½ years-plus, was trailing two does late in the evening. He gave Ty a broadside shot at 45 yards. Ty zipped a carbon arrow tipped with a 3-blade broadhead through both lungs and the 230-pound buck only went 40 yards before tipping over. The buck’s massive rack had 16 points. Ty is sure he saw this same buck last year on the same property.