Ray: Preparing for Whitetails–and Mule Deer

The ranches and farmland of the Lone Star state and its neighbors have some tremendous deer, and Rut Reporter Brandon … Continued

httpswww.fieldandstream.comsitesfieldandstream.comfilesimport2014importBlogPostembedRayRR.jpg

The ranches and farmland of the Lone Star state and its neighbors have some tremendous deer, and 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 nontypical trophy. States covered: TX, OK, NM

Oct. 1: This is sure to be a memorable season–for several reasons.

First, it has rained. Across most of Texas an extended drought ended this year with above average moisture in most counties. So there’s more vegetation, meaning more food for deer. More cover for newborn fawns to hide from predators. More cover for newborn turkey poults and quail chicks. More feed so does stay healthy as they nurse fawns. And more food so bucks stay fit and have all the nutrition they need to reach full potential on their headgear. As one biologist told me, “When it rains, it makes all wildlife biologists look good.”

The second thing that has me itching for opening day are the bucks I’ve already scouted. A couple of them are familiar–I saw them last year, but they either needed more time to reach their best so I let them walk or they were just super sneaky (vampires, nocturnal) and I never got the chance to let them walk!

Antler growth is above average and the potential is certainly there for a record-breaking season. Texas should produce some eye-popping bucks this fall.

httpswww.fieldandstream.comsitesfieldandstream.comfilesimport2014importBlogPostembed2010_September_trail_camera_at_ground_blind_4_1666.jpg

Check out the accompanying trail camera pictures. The first, a yardstick-wide mule deer, is an old buck I’ve seen for three seasons now. In 2008 and 2009 his rack sported short tines, decent mass and a wide spread, but he would not have scored much. But this year, he added everything; more mass, longer tine length, a dozen more inches of antler spread and a major drop tine.

The other buck is about as perfect a 10-point whitetail as you could dream up. He’s wide, maybe 20 inches or so outside, with decent mass, long beams and long tines. I think he’ll bust 150 inches easy.

httpswww.fieldandstream.comsitesfieldandstream.comfilesimport2014importBlogPostembed2010_September_trail_camera_at_ground_blind_4_1060.jpg

Big, old bucks are often sneaky vampires, especially when the temperature is hot and there’s food everywhere. They don’t have to move far to get what they need. Early October in Texas usually means hot weather, so laying eyes on any of these mature bucks in legal shooting light in bow season might be a challenge.

I don’t expect signs of the full-blown rut to materialize till November, but I’ll keep you up-to-date on what I’m seeing. I’ll also be in touch with outfitters and guides in the region. A few of my best hunting buddies will even share what they are seeing and I’ll include photos of their success as well as mine.