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.



The rut is rocking in the northern half of the region. On Thanksgiving Day, I watched a mature 8-point chase a doe like a cutting horse for more than an hour. Only 200 yards away from that chase, a broken-horned 8-point was chasing another doe. Now is the time to hunt if you want to see bucks on the move.

Remember Logan Sims, who shot a fine 8-point with his Rossi .223 at the end of October, during Texas’ youth-only weekend? Last weekend, Logan’s dad, Rusty Sims, took him hunting again. This time, the 8-year-old scored on this beautiful 10-point that scored 140-inches! The big buck field-dressed 172 pounds. Logan’s shot was at 10 yards from an elevated tower blind.

If that wasn’t enough, the next day Logan and his dad stalked a bedded mulie buck on the edge of a wheat field. At 48 yards, the single shot .223 put a 55 grain bullet into the big 4×4 buck’s chest. Of the three bucks Logan shot with his little rifle this year, none ran more than 50 yards.

I think Logan got his money’s worth from his $7 youth hunting license. What a season! I’ve already asked Rusty what paperwork I need to fill out to become adopted.

Taking kids hunting is important. Without mentors, how will they learn? How to shoot a gun or bow, follow a blood trail, when to pass a shot and when to take it and so on. Want them to stop playing video games and start listening to you? Get them outside. Sure, you’ll give up some of your own hunting time, but so what? I’m betting someone did the same for you when you were a little snot-nosed wanna-be!

My friend, Kyle Barbour, took his 8-year-old daughter, Kailee, hunting just before Thanksgiving. Kailee scored on a big doe at 60 yards, AND a long-bearded tom turkey! Her first-ever success in the deer woods. Kyle reports that “She is hooked!” She was shooting a single shot Thompson Center .223 with a 3-9X Cabela’s scope.

I’ve been doing the same. On Thanksgiving Day, my 19-year-old nephew, Will Monning, shot a wild turkey at 20 yards with a 20-gauge shotgun. More food for the family feast!

The same afternoon, I put my 15-year-old nephew, John Monning, in a well-placed tripod stand. Late in the day, at 20 yards, he put a Gold Tip carbon arrow with a Swhacker broadhead into a mature mule deer doe. (We got one mule deer doe permit this year at the ranch.) John and I bloodtrailed the deer together, finding it stone dead 150 yards away. It was John’s first-ever deer with bow and arrow. His smile could not have been any bigger if it had been a Booner buck.

Forget the search for big racks for at least one weekend this season. Take a kid hunting. I’m betting it will be your most memorable hunt of the year.