Bucks are still dogging does in most of the Southwest, and the best is yet to come in parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona
When I was a kid my dad told me if he could hunt one day a year for big bucks, it would be Thanksgiving Day. On the West Slope of Colorado, that has never been an option for me. Fortunately, there are a multitude of places you can hunt during this wonderful time of year. Just a few days ago I killed a great buck in Kentucky. I left the day after Colorado's fourth rifle season ended and was in the stand the next afternoon. It began as a slow first sit, but a doe fed out toward a food plot about 20 minutes before dark. She was mature and all by herself. I wasn't sure if she was alone because she had already been bred or if she had a buck with her that hadn't appeared yet. I saw her look into the woods a couple times, so I knew it was the latter. He walked out on her same path just a few minutes later, and I killed him. I drove 18 hours to Kentucky and only hunted for three hours to kill one of my best bucks ever.
The rut is on to some extent just about everywhere in the country. If you have a season open, you should be hunting. I am headed to Texas as soon as I can. The rut is full tilt on my lease in north-central Texas, but I fear it may be winding down by the time I can get down there. I consulted with my friend Blake Barnett on how the rut is doing everywhere else in Texas, and he said, With the full moon at the end of the month you should see some does come in and a second rut could pick up in the Hill Country. West Texas bucks are still chasing. The older bucks seem to be locked down with does, but the rut is still holding strong. In South Texas the bucks should be starting to tickle some antlers together. Pre-rut conditions should be perfect this weekend with the arriving cool front coming in.
Next door in New Mexico the rut is starting to pick up pretty good according to Jordan Christensen from The Draw. North of I-40 is getting going but the southern part of the state is still lagging in rut activity. Arizona, north of the canyon, is going strong with a lot of big deer hitting the dirt recently. Southern Utah is full tilt right now. I am likely years away from a tag in these areas but still, I can't help but dream of a rut tag in one of the premium units in these states. Eastern Colorado is still showing some good rut action with some great bucks hitting the ground. The rifle season will start soon, and it can be a little late in my experience, with many bucks being broken from fighting.
With a few days to spare on my eastern trip, I am now headed to Tennessee to try my luck. The rut is still on here, so I have high hopes. On this Thanksgiving I am thankful for a lot … and mostly, thankful for the rut!
Miles Fedinec is a well-recognized big-game authority. He's been a western hunting guide, specializing in mule deer, elk, and antelope, his entire adult life. When he's not living in a tent, he calls Craig, Colorado home.
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