Overall Activity Status: While guiding aoudad sheep hunters this past weekend in the Texas Panhandle, I spied on deer country. Early morning was the best time to find deer up and moving. I saw three whitetail bucks near a corn feeder in a river bottom near the cottonwoods. All of them were out of velvet. I also saw three mule deer bucks, including one fine 10-point, in broken cedar country. All of the mule deer were still wearing full velvet. A friend in South Texas reports all of his whitetails are still in full velvet in that part of the world.
Fighting: The three whitetail bucks I saw on the creek were fresh out of velvet, with the biggest buck’s horns still colored cherry red. They meshed antlers together a couple of times. I think this was mostly a show of dominance by the older buck than anything.
Rub Making: Some rubs reported, mostly on mesquite trees found in high-traffic areas such as around corn feeders.
Scrape Making: No scrapes reported yet.
Chasing: No chasing yet.
Daytime Movement: The majority of activity on trail cameras is still after shooting hours. Between mornings and afternoons, I saw more deer the first hour in the morning than I did in the afternoons. Temperatures were still in the 80’s in the afternoons, mornings cooler at around 60 degrees.
Estrous Sign: None to report.
X factor: That’s me in the photo behind a 80mm Swarovski spotting scope dissecting a winding river bottom from a rocky bluff. Trail cameras are great to inventory deer, but not every buck is going to visit the local corn feeder, so long distance scouting with big optics is important. In addition to the information trail cameras near corn feeders gives me, I like to watch the bucks from a distance so I know how they approach my stand sites. That helps me decide on the best wind direction when debating which stand to hunt.