Ray: South-Central Rut Activity Heats Up

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. 12--Overall Activity Status: Bucks seem less tolerant of each other with each day that passes. I watched two medium-sized 8-points walk stiff-legged around each other, heads tipped down, both itching for a reason to fight. Eventually, they went their separate ways, but clearly the boys are not friendly any more. They are not willing to share the girls. I saw two other bucks trotting, nose to the ground, like they were scent trailing something.

Two friends killed big bucks this past week in the northern Texas Panhandle: One a big 160-inch 10-point spotted and stalked in big crop fields and CRP fields; the other a 150-plus buck with extra kickers spotted and stalked in similar terrain. That buck had a G-2 snapped completely off. The trail cam pics of that same buck showed that tine was about 12 inches long. As bucks spend more time sparring, expect more tines to be busted. Both bucks were taken with a rifle.

Rub Making: The more country I scout, the more rubs I find. Friends in Central and North Texas report small rubs around every corn feeder on their lease.

Scrape Making: I've been monitoring a couple of big scrapes I found a month ago. The same routine seems to be happening now as then. Every 2-3 days, the scrapes get pawed up and the overhanging branch is shredded a little more.
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Chasing:** A friend of mine was driving home from a morning hunt in the northeastern Texas Panhandle, at 12:20 PM, when he spied movement off the highway in a ravine dotted with trees. It was a huge 170-class buck hazing a doe. The doe eventually laid down and the buck stood guard. They were about 300 yards off a busy highway…at lunch time! Unfortunately, they were on land my friend could not hunt, so he just watched. Painful!
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Daytime Movement:** Ten days ago the only time worth hunting was the first and last hour of the day. Not any more. Bucks could pop out at any hour as they search for does and temperatures start to drop. The heated pre-rut is in full swing. Today (Nov. 12) a major snow storm slammed in to New Mexico, North Texas and Oklahoma. That nasty, cold weather will have deer keyed in on food sources like agriculture and corn feeders big time. Check out the accompanying photo (taken before the snow storm) of a trail that leads to a wheat field. There are no cattle in that pasture so all those tracks are from deer and hogs. Wow!