Overall Activity Status: I noticed a significant spike in deer movement this week, including a couple of mature bucks. One was a big 8-point I had not seen at all this season. I’ve seen tall-tined 10-point several days in a row while scouting from a far. He’s 145-150 inches, I believe. I’ll try for him this week when the wind is right.
Scouting from a high mesa over a river corridor behind an 80mm spotting scope, I watched three good bucks, all 125-150 inches, put their noses down and follow the same trail down an old two-track road that paralleled the river. They walked nearly a mile north at a steady pace until they caught up with the doe leaving the sweet perfume! Then it was like watching bees circle a hive.
The oldest buck was running the show while the others watched. I did not witness any breeding, but the doe was not playing nearly as hard to get as they usually do, so it was probably going to happen soon. That was on November 10. I learn a lot more about what stage of the rut we are in by gaining a high vantage point and just watching compared to sitting in a blind with a limited view.
Fighting: Sitting in ground blind the morning of November 11, waiting for daylight, I heard antlers clacking together only 30 yards away. This was not serious fighting, but it was loud enough to give away their location. The two bucks lingered around my area until daylight so I could see them: a small 90-inch 8-point and an older 125-inch 10-point. A pair of coyotes came through just after daylight and spooked the bucks.
Rub Making: I watched a mature, 6 ½-year-old 8-point, about 145 inches, turn a small mesquite tree to sawdust. This was done between short chases of a nearby doe, while other smaller bucks watched. I think it was mostly a display of dominance to the younger bucks. The doe fed and looked around, seemingly unimpressed.
Scrape Making: I’ve heard several reports of bucks working scrape lines. While glassing from a high vantage point along a river, I saw a cloud of dust rising over the short brush. A moment later, out stepped a buck. I’m sure he was pawing the dusty earth, making a scrape.
Chasing: I watched that same old 145-inch 8-point chase a doe back and forth on the evening of November 7 in the Texas Panhandle. He would chase her a little, then stand guard and watch her. Two smaller bucks stood on the outskirts watching the show. I saw the same buck in the exact same stretch of creek bottom chase a couple does on November 9 and 10. In that span of four days, he moved only about 400 yards when I saw him.
Daytime Movement: Reports throughout north Texas of increased action, both mornings and evenings. I’ve watched deer moving until 9 a.m. The earliest I’ve seen them moving in the afternoons was about 4:30 p.m.
Estrous Signs: A friend and wildlife biologist reported watching two mature bucks dog a doe on November 9 in the eastern Panhandle. Any time you see the older bucks following and chasing, it means does are getting ready to breed. The old bucks don’t waste their time and energy with a chase unless it is worthwhile.
X Factor: The next two weeks will be prime time to employ rattling and grunt calls from central Texas up through northwestern Oklahoma. If you see a buck passing by out of range, a couple of grunts might turn him your direction. If he doesn’t respond, try rattling. It is unforgettable to have a 200 pound buck, hair bristled on his back, coming at you like a guided missile!