Ray: Near-Peak Rut in Oklahoma

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

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.

Nov. 26–Overall Activity Status: It’s prime time in western Oklahoma. I just got home from three days of hunting along dry creeks that bordered big alfalfa and wheat fields in the western extreme of the state. My friend Shawn and I also glassed CRP fields and rolling sage-covered hills that surrounded the creek and agriculture. We saw the majority of deer during the last hour of the day in and around the wheat and alfalfa fields.

httpswww.fieldandstream.comsitesfieldandstream.comfilesimport2014importBlogPostembedRR-_2010_November_Oklahoma_whitetail_hunt__TX_live_mule_deer_rubs_316.jpg

I rattled up two bucks: one a small 4-point, the other a nice 8-point with half his rack busted off. Oh, and a big coyote also came running in to the horns! Frankly, considering the time of year, I thought we would have had more luck rattling.
**
Rub Making:** In western Oklahoma, I only saw a few small rubs along the river bottom corridor. Not as many as I’ve seen closer to home in the Texas Panhandle.
**
Scrapes:** In Oklahoma, I saw two fresh scrapes. Both were about the size of a beach ball. Both had been pawed up recently and the overhanging branch was twisted and broken. Both scrapes were along the dry creek that bordered wheat and alfalfa fields. Shawn planned to hang a trail camera over one of them to see what’s in the area this week.

Chasing: What a scene. On the morning of November 24, in western Oklahoma, Shawn and I spotted two deer chasing in a large CRP field. Two deer soon turned in to six. There were FIVE bucks all chasing the same frazzled-looking doe! They were almost a mile from our position. The biggest in the mob looked like the 140-class 8-point we’d seen in the same area the day before.

I took off at a trot, backpack on and tripod Bog Pod shooting sticks in one hand, Browning X-Bolt rifle in the other. Using the contour of the field, I closed the distance. At 110 yards, I peeked over a small rise and saw the herd of deer darting back and forth, bucks fighting, chasing, acting plain crazy. One of the small bucks spotted me, but just didn’t care. When the big 8-point stopped briefly broadside in a thick stand of sunflower stalks, I cranked the Leupold scope up to 10x, put the crosshairs on his thick chest and squeezed. The 120-grain Winchester Super-X bullet from the .25-06 dropped him instantly. The rest of the deer just trotted over the hill, still chasing, like nothing ever happened.

He was a nice buck, but not the 140-incher from the previous day, a little smaller and younger.

From what Shawn and I saw in three days of hunting in Oklahoma, the rut was clearly either at its peak or right on the verge. This was my first year to hunt deer in Oklahoma, but Shawn tells me that‚s usually the case every year. The rifle season lasts two weeks and that‚s prime time to hunt. Almost every year, the week around Thanksgiving is when the rut busts loose. Shawn says there‚s usually two or three wild days in a row where bucks are chasing all day and sometimes you see multiple, big mature bucks chasing across the big wheat and alfalfa fields.

When I drove home on November 24, leaving shortly after lunch, Shawn called to tell me there was another wide, big 8-point chasing a doe right by his house in open country. It was chasing a doe, zigging and zagging like a cutting horse, at 2 p.m.