Rut Reporter Brandon Ray is an expert on the region. Ray was born in Dallas and shot his first deer with a bow in Central Texas at the age of 15. The full-time freelance writer manages his family’s Texas Panhandle ranch, is a licensed New Mexico guide, and last year took a 184 gross P&Y non-typical trophy. States covered: TX, OK, NM.


__**Overall Activity Status Nov. 18**: It’s been cold in the northern half of my region (NM, TX and OK). This morning, Nov 18, it was 28 degrees in Amarillo with frost on the ground. Deer were moving everywhere. I watched one buck cut across a CRP field at daybreak. He looked like a steam engine with clouds of smoke bellowing from his nose and mouth as he chugged across the open grass for some cover in a nearby canyon.

Yesterday morning, below freezing temps also, friend Chad Hammer hammered his best-ever buck in the TX Panhandle. Chad had an elevated view over a creek bottom. The first deer he saw that morning was this heavy-horned 9-point. The buck was alone, but had his nose to the ground in that classic bird dog fashion, either following the scent of another deer or searching for a scent trail up the creek. Chad and hunting buddy Kelley Sims glassed the deer, recognized it was mature, so Chad leveled his .300 Weatherby Mag rifle on his bipod and hit the buck in the chest at 100 yards. Chad’s buck has one of the prettiest capes I’ve ever seen ,with tan or orange-colored hair and a double throat patch. The buck weighed over 200 pounds easy. The 9-point rack scored about 147 inches.
Rub Making:** Yesterday, I watched a bull-necked mule deer buck rake a cedar tree to death through my spotting scope. When the big-bodied 4×4 buck was done, the top half of the cedar tree was demolished.

Scrapes: I watched a 3 ½-year-old 10-point whitetail rake a small mesquite tree with his antlers, then rub his forehead and eyes on the overhanging branches. Next, he pawed the ground about four times with his left hoof. Then four times with the right hoof. Finally, he rubbed his back legs together and urinated in the scrape. The first buck I’ve actually watched make a scrape all season.

Chasing: In areas where lots of deer are congregated, like wheat fields, I’ve heard reports of multiple bucks, mostly younger ones, chasing does. To find bucks chasing it’s a good idea to get a good vantage point where you can watch lots of country.

Daytime Movement: Mornings seem to be best right now. Of my friends that have killed big bucks in the last week, all were shot on cold, frosty mornings.