South Texas Rut Is Hot

Overall activity status: In a state as big as Texas, it's no surprise that rut action can vary widely from one end of the state to the other. A friend hunting in the eastern Texas Panhandle this past weekend reported seeing five different bucks at a corn feeder. None of them showed any interest in fighting with each other or pursuing does. They were in recovery mode, just interested in filling their bellies after the exhaustive rut.

Meanwhile, Temple Ranch manager Robert Sanders reports it is quite different in south Texas. “Rut is in full swing here,” he said.” “Lots of does in heat allowing a broad age class of bucks to breed, not just the dominant bucks. Feed consumption at feeders has dropped due to bucks not interested in eating as much. Bucks and does have dropped their guard dramatically and act totally differently than they did two weeks ago.”

Chasing: Chasing is at its frenzied peak in many locations in the brush country of south Texas now. Any time you see a doe in that part of the state this month, watch her back trail for a buck.

Fighting: Lots of post-rut bucks with broken tines have been seen at the top of the state. "In south Texas, rattling antlers would work very well from now until the first of the year," said Robert Sanders.

Rub making: I did find a rub recently on a cedar tree along the banks of a creek.

Scrape making: No fresh scrapes reported. In south Texas, bucks are too busy chasing and breeding to worry about scrapes.

Daytime movement: It is interesting that a buck that seems more nocturnal than an owl in October can totally abandon that routine in the late season and become very visible. Cold weather and a lack of native browse later in the year demands that bucks must be more active to find food. The first and last hours of the day are still prime time, but I'm seeing lots more photos on trail cameras and live sightings of bucks at midday now, even in post-rut mode.

X-factor: In the northern part of the state, the most common status being reported is that the rut is over and deer are weary. So hunting near food sources is the key right now. Corn feeders are an obvious destination, but so are ag fields like wheat or milo. (The milo harvest is late this year due to a late freeze.) In the past ten days, the bucks that were regulars on one of my trail cameras vanished. So I went to a high spot to glass the countryside. What I found was a herd of 26 deer on the neighbor's wheat and milo, including two of the missing bucks. The deer had moved about half a mile or more from their core area. If you can't find any deer in your usual spots, look to any ag fields within a couple of miles.