What deer activity are you seeing?
Spend your time hunting the Southwest? We have rut-related answers for you. Here's the latest and greatest information.
My good friend Steven Tisdale hunts in western Texas. He said the rut is in full swing, but it remains a mixed bag. He glassed a wheat field full of does two hours before dark a couple days ago and saw a mature buck tending one. Also, he saw several does still with fawns and yearlings, indicating they weren't ready to breed. He did rattle in two mature bucks late that evening, after spotting them and moving in to about 200 yards.
He talked to two different guys who saw high-scoring bucks. Those deer approached feeders from downwind, but only cruised through without pausing to feed. He warns that you have to be ready to shoot at all times this time of year. Still, he knows of others who have shot bucks at feeders that just rolled in alone and started eating.
Ronnie Parsons, bowhunter supreme operating out of San Angelo, Texas, believes the rut is just getting started. He is seeing bucks chasing does. However, the oldest age-class bucks have disappeared altogether. He is hoping a mature buck following a doe will show up at one of his feeders this weekend. Some does have as many as three bucks standing and watching, while bigger bucks attempt to fend them off. The next couple weeks should be excellent.
Deer extraordinaire Dwayne Peirce, who hunts in north central Texas, said a friend watched two does being bred a couple nights ago. He has also begun to witness more mid-day movement the past couple days. So, despite ongoing breeding, it does not appear deer are in lock down just yet.
Matthew Futtere, who is the CEO/owner of Veteran Innovative Products, hunts around Fredericksburg, Texas. He said bucks are still in chase mode, though warming weather has turned bucks more nocturnal. The recent cold front, accompanied by heavy winds, shook the majority of remaining acorns off of the oaks. That, too, is keeping deer in deeper woods and visiting feeders less frequently. Another cold front is scheduled to arrive for the weekend and Futtere expects deer to be on their feet and pushing hard during daylight hours. He recommends all-days sits to ambush cruising bucks.
South Texas deer are still a couple weeks out from rutting activities, though cooler temperatures have encouraged better movement around feeders.
Jeff Danker, Realtree pro staffer and host of BuckVentures TV, hunts in northwestern Oklahoma. He has observed fully mature bucks chasing in a big way the past couple days. This differs from reports from northeastern Oklahoma, where veteran bowhunter Eddie Claypool said whitetails are in full lock-down. Mature bucks are breeding does and now difficult to find due to less movement. Other than immature bucks, most medium-to-large bucks are concentrated around pockets of hot does. Right now, you're either in them or not.
Danny Farris, owner of Ultimate Predator Gear, said Colorado Eastern Plains whitetails are in full lock down. Most mature bucks are in thick cover tending specific does. He says most of these does will be bred fairly quickly and predicts there will be stop-and-start waves of movement throughout the remainder of the week and weekend.
Ralph Ramos, owner of Ramos Hunts & Video, said southern New Mexico mule deer bucks are beginning to move more with the arrival of cooler weather. However, northern New Mexico muleys are starting to show neck swelling and a little pre-rut activity. Coues whitetails still aren't rutting. Festivities normally beginning in time for the late-archery opener around New Year.
Darren Choate, owner of Western Whitetails, said his New Mexico rifle Coues hunt was a bust due to Forest Service prescribed burns, resulting in limited access following road closures. Something to keep in mind this time of year: check Forest Service websites prior to your hunt to learn about prescribed fires, road conditions and so forth.
Arizona is forecasted to receive up to 4 inches of rain at lower elevations and up to 25 inches of snow in high country. This will complicate hunting for those participating in ongoing rifle hunts this weekend, particularly with Coues whitetails that hate inclement conditions. They typically hole up tight and waiting for sunshine. Under these conditions — and with limited time to hunt — would be the only time I'd recommend kicking draws or mini drives to get Coues moving.
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