Overall activity status: Deer movement has generally been good to excellent, especially in the last couple of days. Much of the region has experienced a cool front (there are reports of snow flurries in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota), and a rising moon in the afternoon seems to have deer on their feet.
Fighting: No reports of fighting yet, but as more bucks shed velvet, the first serious sparring matches should occur. Southern Indiana outfitter Ben Reynolds says about 70 percent of the bucks in his hunting area have shed velvet. Ratios like that are pretty accurate for much of the region, but changing literally by the day.
Rub making: Generally slow. My hunting partner Dave Olson reported spotting the first nice rubs of the season as he worked the edge of one of his farm fields in a tractor. Older bucks almost always make the first serious rubs of the season, so Dave has reason for excitement.
Scrape making: None to report, though bucks have been working one mock scrape I made on a Minnesota property I hunt.
Chasing: None to report.
Daytime movement: Like last week, deer have been moving pretty well in daylight, especially with the temperature drop…but may not always be visible. Ben Reynolds reports that white oak acorns are dropping like rain in his area of Indiana, and the abundant mast has affected the number of deer he sees. “I watched a soybean field fill up with 60 deer a week ago,” he notes. “And this week it’s tough to see a one during daylight. They’re in the timber, scarfing up acorns right now.”
Estrous signs: None to report.
X-Factor: The acorn drop is always the biggest curveball this time of year. That first flush of hard mast on the ground is a game-changer, sucking deer off fields and food plots and into the timber. Also, many small-game seasons open in the next few days, and hunters seeking squirrels, rabbits or game birds can alter deer movements and even bedding sites. Monitor the behavior and location of these wandering sportsmen and note how (or if) their presence has affected deer activity.