Most states are still on the front end of the action, and the best is likely yet to come.
As we rounded the corner, I slammed on the brakes and just said, Bucks. From about 1,000 yards away, I saw two deer violently throwing each other around in an opening. We watched as a giant 2-by-2 beat the hell out of a younger 4-by-4. When the fight ended, I scanned for anything else in the area and noticed the real monster standing about 200 yards away, watching the fight. He noticed us not long after we noticed him and disappeared into the trees with great stealth. We glassed the area for a while, trying to catch another glimpse of the buck, but he was gone. With the activity I had seen, I was fairly confident the buck would reappear in the evening trying to find a doe in estrus.
For the evening hunt, we posted at a spot where we could watch does, and I made an educated guess about where I thought the buck would come out. The does were feeding perfectly for our plan, and 30 minutes before dark, the giant old 2-point stepped out and started walking toward the does. Our buck followed 50 yards behind. The bucks immediately started posturing toward each other. Without altercation, the 2-point backed down, but the big buck followed into an opening. My hunter anchored him right there. The buck is 31½ inches wide, with six points on one side and seven on the other. I had hunted this area for six consecutive days before locating that deer. He appeared seemingly out of nowhere. The rut is on.
Most regions are on the front end, with the best days to come. In the unit next to where I hunted this past week, mature bucks were just starting to show up, and I anticipate Colorado's third rifle season will hit the rut about as good as possible. The guys I've spoken with in most of Nevada and Utah are seeing much of the same. A few big bucks have been killed, but the good days are still ahead.
I had a great conversation yesterday with Blake Barnett, host of Trailing the Hunters Moon, about the Texas gun opener.
Warm temps and some recent moisture have not helped things in terms of rut activity, but they are starting in many areas, he said. In the Hill Country, from Austin to Fredericksburg, they are getting it on right now. I am currently hunting northern Texas near the panhandle, and the bucks are scraping and traveling. The upcoming full moon and cold front should kick these deer into gear.
Barnett mentioned that western Texas and the Trans-Pecos regions are a little bit behind the Hill Country and northern Texas but will see some rut activity soon.
This is the part of the rut I enjoy the most. New bucks show up every day, fueling the anticipation of what could be standing in the does tomorrow.
(Don't Miss: How to Hunt the Phases of the Rut)