Ray: Playing the Waiting Game

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.

I've heard the same report from numerous friends over the last few days. They are seeing the same young bucks they've been seeing for the past month. Maybe a bigger, older buck is on the camera after hours, but nothing big and old in the daylight. That's not all bad, is it? At least they are seeing deer, right? And where there's does, bucks will follow in time. And with the rut, maybe the old guys will show themselves in daylight.

For the whiners who think seeing the "same" young deer over and over is not exciting, how 'bout this report from me: at one of my traditionally best whitetail spots, along a winding river bottom in big country, in the past eight days the only thing on my trail camera has been a flock of 20 turkeys in the daylight and numerous wild hogs after dark. Not a single photo of a deer of any kind, day or night! I would LOVE to say I was "only" seeing the same deer I've been seeing all year.

But this is a time of change. That same turkey/pig spot could produce a nice buck at any time in November. This is the time of year when new bucks show up in new places. The bucks start to wander, looking for love, and possibly crossing fences and walking past your stand. November is here and the hunting is sure to get better with every passing day. Be patient young grasshopper, the best is yet to come!

The highlight this week is a report from my friend Rusty Sims. Rusty and his eight-year-old son, Logan, participated in Texas' youth season, October 29-30. The two day youth season allows young hunters to use a firearm during the statewide archery-only season.

The Sims were hunting a small piece of land--320 acres--that Rusty leases for hunting at a very reasonable price. It's a small tract of land, but every year it produces at least one good buck for the Sims family.

On the afternoon of October 29, with only ten minutes of shooting light left, a fine 8-point strolled past the Sims' well-concealed pop-up ground blind set near a corn feeder. With his single shot Rossi .223 rifle rested across the back of a folding chair, Logan put the crosshairs on the big buck standing only 25 yards away. At the shot, the buck jumped straight up into the air--heart shot. Rusty found the deer dead as a stone 50 yards away. Logan's well-placed 55 grain soft point bullet had shredded the big buck's heart.

"I don't know how he made it that far," Rusty told me. "Logan's shot was perfect."

The big-bodied Texas whitetail field-dressed 160 pounds. He was estimated to be 4 ½-years-old or older. His wide 8-point rack scored 126-inches. It was the only deer the father/son team saw from the blind that afternoon.

That's a stud buck for any hunter, but for an 8-year-old boy? Wow. (By the way, Logan shot an equally impressive buck at the same spot last year during youth season! Rusty is not saying exactly where the 320 acre lease is, for obvious reasons!)