Overall Activity Status: I’m getting mixed reports up and down the Lone Star State. But there does seem to be a common theme: there are fewer-than-normal bucks at the corn feeders. I expect that to change as the weather cools. Also, bucks should start seriously sniffing does next week. If does are hitting your feeder now, it’s just a matter of time before a buck investigates. That should significantly ramp up buck sightings in the central and northern parts of the region by mid-November.
Fighting: A friend hunting the eastern Texas Panhandle saw two mid-sized bucks shove each other back and forth. As he watched, another fight broke out behind him in the trees. On Friday, October 26, I went after a specific buck I’d seen before–a mature 10-point with a symmetrical rack of about 140-inches. He came in with about ten minutes of shooting light left, but through the binoculars I could see he’d broken off one of his 5-inch brow tines. I decided to pass him and hope we meet again next year, with all tines intact of course. Expect to find more and more bucks with broken antlers as we get closer to the rut.
Rub Making: I’m seeing the same rubs from earlier in the season. No fresh sign around my setups.
Scrape Making: I have spotted a couple of fresh scrapes, both along the local creek. They had overhanging limbs, and the ground had been pawed out about the size of a beach ball.
Chasing: Two friends have seen bucks chasing does–young bucks in both cases. One sighting was at night, via truck headlights, in western Oklahoma, the buck intercepting a specific doe like a cutting horse. The other was west of Fort Worth in Texas. Most hunters, however, report that bucks are showing little if any interest in the girls.
Daytime Movement: I’ve personally seen bucks during the last 30 minutes of daylight the last two times I’ve sat near a corn feeder. A friend hunting in central Texas reports that his nephew shot an old buck at 1 p.m. near a corn feeder during the youth season.
Estrous Signs: Other than a couple of isolated reports of small bucks chasing does, none to report.
X-Factor: Now is not the time to leave the stand early, as last light seems to be prime time. My friend, Shawn Hoover, took his sons hunting in western Oklahoma during the youth season. Hunting from a double ladder stand, Shawn’s 16-year-old son, Reagan, used a rifle to shoot this buck (pictured above) from 150 yards at last light. The buck’s dressed weight was about 175 pounds and tooth wear appears to put him at 6 ½ years old. The typical 10-pointer grosses 158 inches and has a long kicker off the back of one brow tine. Also in the picture is his younger brother, Dylan.