Overall Activity Status: The switch was flipped the middle of last week, and the rut is nearing full speed in much of the Mid-South. Small bucks are chasing does to the point of exhaustion at all hours of the day. The more mature deer seem to be biding their time just a bit longer, although plenty of good ones were shot over the weekend. Carl Doran, owner of Snipe Creek Lodge in western Kentucky, says that this past weekend was the best gun opener in memory at Snipe Creek. And he believes the best is yet to come. “We lucked out with some favorable weather for a change, and our hunters have already killed some great bucks (including the two in the photo). I only expect it to get better as the week progresses. We have a serious cold front on the way, and more does will be coming into estrous later in the week. When the girls are telling the guys that ‘it’s time,’ that’s when you start seeing your big mature deer up on their feet.”
Fighting: I heard several reports of fighting from the weekend. Encounters between two mature deer aren’t likely to be friendly right now.
Rub making: I found loads of fresh rubs at the family farm over the weekend.
Scrape making: Although I saw plenty of scrapes over the weekend as well, most were predictably covered over with leaves.
Chasing: As mentioned, young bucks are chasing does at all hours of the day. In the past four days, I’ve seen chasing just before and after daylight; at high noon, early afternoon, and just before dark.
Daytime movement: Although this report is quite promising, and the weather this week promises to make it even better, don’t head to the woods expecting to shoot in self-defense. The hunters who are seeing the most deer right now are those who are putting in significant hours on stand. And most of those hours are burned watching empty fields and timber.
The morning movement definitely seems best right now, although, as mentioned, the two hunters in the photo above bagged their bucks Sunday evening. That monster on the left (from the hunters’ perspective) slipped through with mere minutes of legal shooting light remaining. Snipe Creek guides had numerous photos of that deer, and had nicknamed him “Bubbles” because of all the gnarliness on his bases.
“The hunter didn’t know it was Bubbles when the deer came through,” Doran says. “He just recognized a big main beam and a long G2, knew it was a shooter, and didn’t hesitate. Opportunities happen fast this time of year, so you have to be prepared.”
Estrous signs: Some does have already been bred, no doubt, but I think peak breeding is still a few days away. We saw numerous lone fawns over the weekend.