Overall Activity Status: Reports are mixed this week, varying from location to location. Whit Peterman, hunting the family ranch in Bosque and Hamilton Counties in central Texas, reports deer sightings were slim to none, the deer staying hid in the timber, but trail cameras showed them around feeders after dark. I hunted the eastern Panhandle one afternoon and saw a doe, button buck, and small eight point at a windmill. Despite the runoff pond being frozen, the deer managed a drink around the partially melted corner of the pond. Kyle Barbour was hunting the other end of the same ranch and saw five bucks, three of them with broken racks. He also saw three does. The activity did not start until around 4 p.m. at my spot and closer to 5 p.m. at Kyle’s blind. Meanwhile, the south Texas rut is hot right now.
Fighting: A friend in north Texas, hunting on a huge ranch with no hunting pressure, rattled in a 150-class 10-point, but his partner was unable to get an arrow off in time. It seems late for a good buck to respond to rattling that far north, but he said the mature buck skidded to a halt just 22 yards away, looking for the fight.
Rubs and Scrapes: I’m just seeing old sign in the northern region now.
Chasing: A friend hunting a long sendero surrounded by thick mesquites and prickly pear in south Texas reports he watched three small bucks chase does up and down the sendero for over an hour in the morning this past weekend. He never saw a mature buck.
Daytime Movement: In south Texas, where the rut is still rockin’, midday can be productive. Consider watching a windmill pond during midday as thirsty rutting bucks will quench their thirst at the few available water sources because of the drought. I bow shot a 150-class buck several years ago in south Texas, hunting over a remote water tank from a ground blind at midday. Reports from the rest of the state are consistent, with the first hour in the morning being good and again in the afternoons near food, starting as early as 3 p.m.
Estrous Sign: If you’re hunting south Texas, and know of a place with lots of does, now is the time to hunt there. Trolling bucks will find those does eventually. Does in south Texas are often bred well into the month of January.
“X” Factor: Cold weather has a grip on the northern half of the region now, with single digit lows and snow and ice in the Texas Panhandle, northeastern New Mexico, and the Oklahoma Panhandle. Once the storm passes, expect good deer movement, especially around food sources in the afternoons.
New Mexico’s late-season archery deer hunt opened on January 1. A friend hunting over there, and scouting the past two weeks, says the rut activity is pretty much over now, having peaked about 10 days ago.
For a look at some of the biggest bucks taken this season in south Texas–and I’m talking multiple 200-inchers–go to the website www.loscazadores.com. It’s the state’s most popular deer contest, based in Pearsall.