Ray: Bucks, Imperfect and Otherwise, on the Move

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.

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To start the week, I have two first-hand accounts to help gauge deer activity in the northern stretch of the region.

First, Shawn Hoover in the Oklahoma Panhandle reports an increase in buck activity this past weekend. He watched two different bucks work a scrape less than 100 yards from him, on the edge of an alfalfa field near a river bottom. One buck was lip curling near a doe, following her with tail out straight, obviously very interested.

Hoover also spotted a 150-class 10-point with several does in wide open, tumbleweed country. He considered a stalk--it was muzzleloader season--but decided there were too many deer around the bedded buck for a high odds attempt. So he left the buck alone. He returned the same afternoon to try to relocate the big boy, but never found him.

Hoover also reported seeing three different bucks with broken racks. Seems early in the season for all the reports I've heard of deer with busted headgear. So it leaves you wondering: Is it a result of poor spring and summer nutrition from the drought that made antlers weak and brittle? More sparring and fighting than usual? Or just a random coincidence? Finally, despite Hoover's better-than-average buck sightings this weekend, he reports that warm weather still had a lot of deer waiting until after dark to visit the alfalfa fields.

Next, my friend Clint Hukill gave me an update on his progress in the Texas Panhandle. Hukill had several young bucks and does inside bow range this weekend, but stayed off the bowstring waiting and watching for something bigger and older. He reported that the biggest of the mob--a 3 ½-year-old 8-point--was sniffing does, nose to the ground, tail out and very interested in scent-checking the females. He was keeping the other bucks away from the does and by late in the morning, he rounded up the does and escorted them away from the other bucks.

I went out on a pig hunting mission Saturday afternoon, October 22. The pigs have been ruining one of my best deer spots this season. I got two pigs with archery tackle early in the evening, then started the long hike in the steep canyon-country back to the truck with 30 minutes of daylight left. What happened next was totally unexpected. I'll fill in the details in my next report, but the accompanying photo should give you a hint. Yes, one of my buck tags is filled!