While the muley rut is kicking off, many Texas whitetail hunters reported a slow start to rifle season
I rounded a corner and saw a group of does, and so I stopped to glass for a buck. When I did, a doe looked up at my truck and turned inside out. Mild pandemonium ensued for a minute when the whole group of deer — including a good looking buck — blew out of the area. But as they slowed down, my hunter, George, asked if I was looking at the buck. I definitely was. I quietly and intently said, “we need to kill that buck,” but he was now 500 yards away, and we only had about 15 minutes of legal shooting light left. He was feeding in the thick oak brush and pinyons and we were still in the pickup. It was a tough decision, but I told George that we shouldn’t risk screwing this up by forcing the issue. We needed to come back in the morning and try again.
We were in position at daybreak looking for the buck we had seen before. There were lots of does around, so I knew he would be close. I finally glassed up his white face behind a bush, and he was within range. When the buck stood up, George was already in position. One good shot and the giant was on the ground. The buck has 7 points on one side and 6 on the other including his split G3 and matching kickers. An absolute monarch of a mule deer.
This deer seemingly showed up out of nowhere. I had hunted this area for five days prior and was pretty much on a first-name basis with all the does. This time of year, you have to keep checking the does. It’s only a matter of time until a buck shows up.
The rut has kicked off in northwest Colorado. I wouldn’t call it hot and heavy yet, but bucks are starting to push does around and new bucks are showing up daily. Northern Utah and Nevada are seeing similar activity. The next two weeks are going to be prime time in these areas. As we move south, the mule deer rut slows down a little. Southern Colorado seems to be a week or so behind what I am witnessing in northern Colorado. I had a buddy hunting on the famous Arizona Kaibab Plateau last week and his reports mimicked my reports out of southern Colorado, with little bucks hanging with the does and acting rutty, but the mature bucks are not there yet. They were able to kill a giant buck but he was all by himself, not a doe around. Those mature deer could start showing up in the does anytime now, although you are likely one to two weeks away from any real action in these areas.
The Texas rifle opener was last weekend and it seemed a bit lackluster compared to years past. Usually, a bunch of big bucks meet their fate on that day. The weather has been beautiful and the deer just aren’t in a hurry to get started in much of the state. North and west Texas seem to be getting close, but it’s just barely starting. The Hill Country is on fire right now. Blake Barnett from Trailing the Hunters Moon said this week that there are a few counties in the Hill Country where the rut has peaked or even past peak already.
The timing of the rut seems to be status quo this year. In the regions I hunt it’s been a little bit early the last three years, but we’re back to normal this year. I’m very excited for the next few weeks as the rut is going to pick up in most of the Southwest region. From what I have seen, we’re just getting started and the best days are yet to come.