Signs of life for the Southwest
California's A zone is cooling off, but I am seeing some definite signs of life in the northern parts of California, Utah, and Colorado.
I spent Oct. 16-20 guiding for elk in Colorado and noticed new deer showing up every day. This is good news for the rut. Not only were the does piling in from their summer range, but bucks were starting to show up as well. The other guides commented on it as well. I had reports of smaller bucks posturing and sparring. I wouldn't consider this rut activity so much as rut preparation. Judging by the movement and traveling I've been seeing, we could be looking at an earlier rut than usual.
My favorite hunting tactics for this part of the cycle involve posting up in travel corridors and hunting areas that attract does, such as food sources. You may not see bucks tending does yet, but they are starting to stage up for the rut. It's a fun time of the year because you just never know what may come strolling by as the bucks transition from summer grounds to rut grounds.
The first rifle deer season on the West Slope of Colorado starts Oct. 30 this year. All of Colorado's seasons are about a week later than they have been in the past and will be for the next few seasons, as the new five-year season structure went into effect last year. I believe this will have an overall negative impact on mature mule deer bucks, but this year and potentially the next are likely to produce some great deer with all of the rifle seasons being timed during the prime rut dates.
Much of what I am hearing from other guides in the Southwest region is the same as what I am experiencing. The northern half is staging up with a lot of deer movement, while the southern half of the region is still in a holding pattern, waiting for a seasonal change to get them excited. In Texas, I would look for deer in the northern parts as well as Hill Country to start with some rubbing and scraping very soon.
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