The Rut is on in South Texas

Overall Activity Status: Zach Waterman, public relations manager for Nosler, hunted north Texas during the recent frigid conditions and took the buck below. The 4 ½-year-old scored 132 B&C, but you can see this buck was not about score--the deer had 10 ½-inch brow tines. Waterman used a prototype Nosler custom rifle to take the animal.

Fighting: In South Texas, fighting is common now and rattling and grunt calls could lure a trolling buck within range.

Rub Making: Just old sign at this point.

Scrape Making: None reported.

Chasing: Robert Sanders, manager of the Temple Ranch, says "The rut is going strong in South Texas. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being complete chaos, I'd say we are at a 9.5 right now. Deer are coming to antlers and bucks are running everywhere in general. Bucks are starting to lose weight, making it hard to judge age. About 15-20 percent of bucks have some kind of broken antlers."

Daytime Movement: I glassed a Panhandle river bottom on the afternoon of December 15. Deer started to appear at 4:30, and by 5:30 I'd spotted five different bucks, all congregating around one corn feeder. No does were around, just bucks. Now that the rut is over in this area, bucks are looking to regain calories lost while breeding, making ag fields or corn feeders good ambush points.

Estrous Sign: In South Texas, if you see a doe cross a sender, you should stay alert. At the peak of the rut, it's likely a buck of some size is nearby, likely on her back trail.

X Factor: On December 15, I saw a mature 8-point I have not seen since November 14. Miraculously, he does not appear to have any tines broken. He is the only mature buck I've seen in December with a perfect rack. I've mentioned this buck before, an old 6 ½- or 7 ½-year-old I've watched now for three seasons. His rack is around 140-145-inches. I think he was bigger last year. I saw him near a corn feeder in daylight, so now that the rut is over I'm hoping he sticks to that pattern. This might be the week I finally get a crack at him. This is a perfect example of why late season hunting, when bucks congregate at food sources, can be so productive.