Ray: Bird-Dogging, Lip-Curling, Fighting Bucks

Rut Reporter Brandon Ray is an expert on the region. Ray was born in Dallas and shot his first deer … Continued

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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.

Hunting is still top-notch this week in the northern half of the region. Cold weather expected later this week should only intensify deer movement. Everyone I’ve talked to lately reported seeing lots of bucks; bucks bird-dogging, lip curling, fighting and pursuing does. Also, lots of reports of bucks with broken antlers. Some missing one or both sides of their racks.

Kelley Sims reported watching a “doe” chase another doe in a CRP field in north Texas. On closer inspection through a spotting scope, he saw the deer doing the chasing was a buck with one antler broken about one inch above the base and the other side busted just past the brow tine!

Clint Hukill reported a knock-out fight just 100 yards from his bow blind, also in north Texas. The two bucks, 2 ½-year-old 10-points of similar size, pushed and shoved with deadly intent for about one minute. They disappeared in a ravine near Clint’s blind. A few minutes later, here comes one of the bucks, apparently the loser. One side of his rack was busted off. The buck was panting like a dog, exhausted. As he got closer, Clint noticed two deep puncture wounds in the buck’s neck, dripping blood. The buck proceeded to eat corn near Clint’s feeder for about ten minutes, then wandered off down the creek.

I watched three whitetail bucks, two of them dinks and one a fine middle-aged 9-point, harass a doe in a CRP field not far from my house. The big buck was following the doe and chasing off the smaller rivals at the same time. They paid little attention to my truck 200 yards away. All this at 10:45 in the morning. And in a place where I have not seen a single deer all season. You just never know when or where a chase will happen in the rut!

On a side note, I’ve watched several mule deer bucks acting rutty this week. A little earlier than usual in my experience, but I saw what I saw! (Most years in the Panhandle, I see mulie bucks start chasing does in early to middle December.) Bucks lip-curling, neck stretched out, nose in the air with their tail straight out, following does with little thought to their surroundings. One big buck stood 40 yards from my truck, following a clan of ten does like a love sick puppy dog–at 10 in the morning!

Ty Day shot the fine buck in the accompanying photo. The Panhandle beast scored around 160-inches. Ty reports he saw a bigger, 180-class monster in the same area, but too far away for a shot at last light. Despite the drought this year, there’s been plenty of reports of better-than-average deer harvested.