What deer activity are you seeing?
Things continue to improve throughout the region, but the best action right now is in parts of Texas and Oklahoma.
Good friend Steven Tisdale, who hunts around Lubbock, Texas, says weather has remained unseasonably hot and dry. He noted the area received a freakishly early killing frost 10 days ago, which eliminated some natural browse. Bucks have grown increasingly intolerant of one another, and Tisdale is seeing mature bucks traveling solo. He's observed some mature bucks with hocks turning oily and smelly, and a little neck swelling. Bucks have begun rubbing aggressively, too.
My old hunting buddy Dwayne Peirce, who farms in Wichita Falls, Texas, tells me that same killing frost arrived unseasonably early in his area, but weather has since turned hot and dry. He reported little daytime deer movement farther south, with both young and mature bucks showing on trail cameras only at night. He believes cooling weather might help turn that trend around.
Ronnie Parsons, who hunts in the San Angelo area, says activity has slowed a touch in that region. He attributes this to live oak acorns falling and deer preferring those to feeder corn. He reports that bachelor groups are beginning to break up and are establishing pecking orders, which results in some non-aggressive sparring matches. Mature bucks are not tolerating one another at all at this point.
Mike Stroff, host of Savage Outdoors TV and owner of SOE Hunts and Western Ranch Outfitters (Ozona and Uvalde, Texas), says deer movement has been hit and miss on his central and southern Texas properties. You might see a lot of deer (though fewer mature bucks) one day and see no deer at all the next. Their clients have killed a few bucks this past week, but action slowed compared to the previous week.
Realtree Pro Staffer and Legends of the Fall Cohost Bonnie McFerrin is down in true South Texas. She says deer are still in early season patterns in their portion of The Lone Star State, with most bucks still in bachelor groups. She said they are four or five weeks out from pre-rut activity.
Joni Sanderford, who runs Croton Creek Ranch & Outfitting with her husband in western Oklahoma, says they haven't seen any chasing yet. That said, they have noticed that bucks are beginning to scrape more aggressively. Their necks are swelling noticeably, too. She also said the cooler weather has been good for deer movement.
Realtree Pro Staffer and BuckVentures Co-Host Jeff Danker hunts a large property in northwestern Oklahoma. He said they've experienced some beneficial cold fronts, and bucks have begun moving more reliably. New bucks are appearing on camera and daylight activity is increasing steadily. Danker says scrapes are opening up, but not in force just yet. He has observed a few bucks showing interest in does. He expects with muzzleloader season opening this weekend, combined with the arrival of cooler air, deer movement should increase.
Eddie Claypool, expert bowhunter out of northeastern Oklahoma, spoke of solid pre-rut activity. More scrapes open up daily and young bucks are getting antsy. Mature bucks are still moving primarily at night, but some mid-age bucks are showing up during shooting hours. Crisp mornings and cool evenings are making it feel much more autumn-like. Overall, Claypool expects better action this week.
On the Eastern Plains, whitetails are following pre-rut routines. More scrapes are appearing, although most activity is occurring at night. There has been a marked increase in highway collisions. This is an early hint of the rut to come. Hunting pressure from the general rifle season could suppress movement this weekend and on into next week.
Arizona and New Mexico
In southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico — Coues whitetail country — weather has cooled noticeably, with nighttime temperatures dipping below freezing at higher elevations and daytime temps hitting the mid-70s in Arizona and mid-60s in New Mexico. This is sure to spark some movement in some areas. Larger bachelor groups are disbanding, with most mature bucks traveling in pairs or solo. Many younger bucks are still traveling in small groups.
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