Overall Activity Status: Good movement is being reported in the northern half of the region despite the full moon on November 17. I’ve watched bucks on the prowl until 8:30 in the morning and seen afternoon action as early as 4:00 p.m. In the last week, I saw two mature bucks I hadn’t seen on the hoof before. One, a mature 8-point about 125 inches, was on trail camera back in August. The other one, a typical 11-point about 140 inches, I’ve never seen before. He was pushing does and chasing around a familiar stand of cottonwood trees on a Panhandle river. There are always 5 to 8 does around that bend of the river, and this time of year those girls pull in a big buck or two from the neighbors.
Fighting: I’ve seen a couple of muley bucks pushing back and forth, but seen no fights or heard reports of any with whitetails. I tried rattling to a mature buck, a 140-class 8-point, on November 14. He was only 160 yards from my stand. He turned and walked away, not interested. I’ve seen two bucks with broken tines. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll remember that by this time last year it seemed like every mature buck was missing bone. Experts speculated the abundant broken racks were due to mineral deficiency in antler due to the drought. That’s not the case so far this season.
Rub Making: I took the accompanying photo of a fresh rub on a mesquite tree not ten yards from a feed trough. In areas where bucks will congregate, you will usually find lots of sign in the immediate area.
Scrape Making: Around those same feed troughs where bucks leave lots of rubs, scrapes are showing up now also.
Chasing: I’ve seen off and on chasing by both young and mature bucks for the past week. Oren Don Molloy, outfitter at Plaska Lodge in the eastern Panhandle, says that “they are chasing pretty hard here now.”
Robert Sanders, Temple Ranch manager in South Texas, reported this: “Not really chasing, but bucks are not good friends anymore. Have pictures of some bucks with broken tines, but for the most part no rut action.”
Ronnie Parsons reported this from his lease in the Hill Country, “Just starting here, I think. I haven’t seen any chasing, but others on the ranch have.”
Daytime Movement: Definitely good action reported recently the first and last hour of the day. But there are no reports yet of those mid-day, tongue-hanging-out, frantic big buck chases across the city park that spell rut chaos. Historically, the chaos comes one week either side of Thanksgiving in North Texas, the Hill Country, and the Panhandle. The time frame is similar for northern Oklahoma. In South Texas, rut is usually much later, peaking in December.
Estrous Sign: In my neck of the woods, it seems to be that time of the season where if a buck spots any doe, he is going to check her. He might casually walk up and sniff her, or he might chase her around the block. That makes the does nervous.
X Factor: A couple of dates to remember: In Texas, the general season for mule deer in most of the Panhandle counties is Nov. 23-Dec. 8. In the Trans-Pecos region the mule deer season is Nov. 29-Dec. 15.