With seasons ending in the northern stretches, hunters in the deep Southwest are looking forward to prime time
Late season was the best season for the northern portions of the southwest region. Some truly giant deer have been taken this year. The famed unit 44 in Colorado has produced multiple 200-inch mule deer this year. The general consensus though, is that the rut has been late. Clay Hill with Hill Guides and Outfitters said today that the rut has been extremely slow in the south-central part of the state, with the action just now heating up in that area. Farther north, the deer were rutting pretty good last week and will likely be rutting into the first week or weeks of December. Chris Guikema of Compass West Outfitters said the same thing. A few mature bucks moved in early, but the rut stalled for a bit and just really got going last week in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. In northern Arizona, the late Kaibab hunt was pretty outstanding according to the reports I have gotten. The deer were rutting pretty good and some giants got killed.
With most of the deer seasons in the northern states of our region coming to an end, it's time for me to focus on Texas and the southern portions into Mexico. My buddy Blake Barnett, host of Trailing the Hunters Moon, shot a heck of a buck in the Panhandle last week, where the deer were in peak form. By his estimation, the Hill Country is about done and the Panhandle and North Central Texas are probably on the back side of the rut now. This is a great time to catch bucks cruising again, looking for any does that may still be in estrus.
Last year I was able to kill my largest whitetail ever because of this. It was December 6th and the rut was all but over. I arrived at my lease and went to check trail cams without much knowledge of what was around. The second camera I checked had one daylight photo of a giant buck from three days prior. Having only one photo, I assumed he was traveling and had just stopped to check the feed station for the scent of a hot doe. It was 4 in the afternoon so I decided I better just sit my butt there for the evening and continue my recon mission the next day after the morning hunt. I barely got my stuff in the stand and noticed a big deer beelining down a wood line with his nose on the ground. He picked his head up to survey the field I was sitting, and I knew immediately it was him. A quick shot from 200 yards had him on the ground. His insatiable urge to find the last hot doe got him killed.
Farther south in Texas, the rut is just heating up. Brandon Blanch with El Sapo Guide Service sent me a few photos of some awesome bucks killed in the last few days. He said around the Hondo area, north and west, the rut has kicked in but there are zero signs of rut in deep south Texas. Another two or three weeks and we should start to see rut activity pick up.
Southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico are in that same boat, with no activity whatsoever, and I don't expect to see any real signs until at least the third week in December and more likely, after Christmas.
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