What Rut Activity Are You Seeing?
My good friend Steven Tisdale up in northwestern Texas has been sending me constant trail camera photos of impressive bucks since my trip down in mid-December. So there is no doubt his hunt area has many reserve or up-and-coming bucks available for next season. Late rains left the northern portion of the state in good shape, so deer have gone into winter quite healthy.
Ronnie Parsons, who hunts in the San Angelo area of the northern Hill Country, says their season was just okay. He says lease members tagged five P&Y bucks, with none scoring more than 140 inches net. Rains arrived in September and October, totaling 9 inches, with another 2.5 inches the remainder of the season, which made hunting difficult. With that said, he says bucks came out of the rut in good shape, with noticeable fat in the chest cavity at the end of the season. He believes this should aid in healthy antler growth for the coming year. He says does and fawns are also in good shape for this time of the year. Parsons is looking forward to an excellent season this coming fall.
Mike Stroff, who operates SOE Hunts in the northern portion of South Texas, and Western Ranch Outfitters in the southern portion of the Hill Country, tells me they had the best season they have experienced on those Texas ranches since he moved to the state in 2006. He says they took some of the best bucks they have ever taken and left some bucks for next season that have the potential to score even better than deer tagged this year. He says should they receive some good spring rains to kick off antler growth, they should produce some awesome bucks for the 2019-20 season.
Friends in Oklahoma enjoyed above-average hunting this season, with persistent rutting activity late into the season. Eddie Claypool, in northeastern Oklahoma, and the Sanderfords of the Croton Creek Ranch in the western region, are optimistic for the coming season, relating that their buck crop is healthy with a good number of mature bucks coming up in the ranks for the coming fall.
Fred Eichler, owner of Full Draw Outfitters in southeastern Colorado, reported consistent success with his clients throughout the season. Despite a dry summer, many of these bucks were high-scoring deer — both mule deer and whitetails. There are plenty of mature bucks still out there, and a wetter 2019 would go a long way to improving trophy quality.
Prolonged drought affected the Southwest proper — New Mexico and Arizona — most dramatically during the 2018-19 deer season. At least one friend didn't even apply for a Coues whitetail tag in 2018, convinced trophy quality would be poor. Surprisingly, some very good bucks were taken by hunters in both states. Though, I did hear persistent reports from many New Mexico and Arizona hunters who just couldn't find the buck they wanted. The moisture situation turned around late in the season, and if such precipitation continues through spring and summer, trophy quality should be improved for 2019, as more bucks were passed this past season than most years.
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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Steve Jamsa
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