WEEKLY RUT REPORT
Several whitetail seasons have now started, primarily archery seasons. But in a few places gun season too is underway. In route to Saskatachewan via Maine and New Hampshire the latter part of this past week, as well as several points in between thanks to airport stops, I ran into a whole lot of hunters. Thank goodness it’s once again that time of the year.
While on the Hartland Ranch near Briarcrest, Saskatchewan this morning (15th) I had the chance to watch two bucks being taken by bowhunters, one was a non-typical and the other a basic typical with a couple of non-typical points. While I have not yet today had a chance to score them, there is no doubt in my mind both will gross over 200. One of the bucks looked like he had stripped his velvet two or three days ago, the other, the non-typical, still had velvet hanging from his massive antlers. As this was being written at noon on the 15th we had also just gotten a call from the taxidermist in Moosejaw that an archer had brought in a buck that he suspected would gross over 225 and net not a whole lot less. That buck too, according to him had just stripped his velvet.
A quick call to some friends in Tennessee, just outside of Nashville and Doug Henderson reported to me he saw several bucks late yesterday afternoon on his farm, “Most of them were clean, but one of the younger bucks still had velvet.” He continued, “I’ve seen some rubs, but mostly rubs to help clean the velvet off of their horns. I also saw a couple of scrapes that had been visited, but I would not call them active yet by any stretch of the imagination.”
While in Maine I visited early the morning of the 14th with Mike French who lives in north central Maine, “The bucks I saw this week were still in velvet, but by the looks of their antlers the velvet should start coming off any day now, most likely this coming week.” Eric Booker of southern New Hampshire essentially had the same thing to say about what few bucks he’d seen the afternoon before.
Dropping down to Georgia (slightly southeast of Atlanta) I talked, at the airport on the 13th, to several hunters who had just left their home state headed to Colorado to hunt elk. “Bucks in our area were just starting to shed their velvet when we left home. We’ve seen a few rubs, where they were rubbing the velvet, but there was no scaping activity.” One of the hunters said, “I’ve got some scrapes I’ve been watching. I’ve seen a couple of big tracks in them, but there had been no scraping activity thus far. But while I’m gone I suspect the bucks will start doing some scraping.”
While on the plane to Regina on the 14th I visited at length with Rob Highlander of Glen Allen, Virginia. “Some of the bucks in our area were just coming out of velvet when we left home. Saw several bucks in a crop field just out of Richmond the afternoon before we left home. Seven out of the eight bucks I saw were out of velvet.”
An email from Trey Moore with the Los Cazadores Deer Contest stated, “We’ve finally gotten a little bit of rain. That’s the good news. Bad news is in visiting with South Texas area ranches we’ve got a horrible fawn crop throughout much of the southern half of the state. That’s going to hurt our bucks in years to come. We’ll be missing that cohort for the next several years. As far as antler development is concerned, some parts of South Texas should have some really good antlered bucks. In other areas according to the landowners I’ve been visiting with throughout the Brush Country antler development is likely going to be off this year when compared to last year. But even so there where be some really good bucks taken once again in South Texas and northern Mexico.” He continued, “Probably about 75 of the bucks we’re hearing about have stripped the velvet. No reports yet of active scrapes.”
I did talk to a couple of hunters at noon on the 15th (in Canada hunting waterfowl) from Minnesota and Wisconsin. “Most of the bucks were stripped when we left home on the 13th. And by the time we get back home in a week, we should start seeing some scrape. Even though they have stripped the bucks we were seeing were still in bachelor herds of 2 to as many as 11 bucks. (This same thing was echoed by everyone I spoke with about bucks.)"
Stan Christiansen in Kansas and Denver McCormick in Oklahoma said essentially the same thing that bucks were still together in bachelor herds and what bucks they’ve see have been coming into food plots and feeding areas…”Bucks are pretty predictable right now as to where they’ll be and when they’ll be there.”
With each passing day now testosterone levels will continue to rise in whitetail bucks. Bucks that may well be “buddied” right now will in the next weeks hate each other. They are still fairly predictable in their movements, which can certainly play to an advantage for bowhunters where seasons or open or will soon open. THE best time to take a mature buck you know about is the first legal opportunity and to many hunters that means archery season.
I headed back outside to do some more scouting and hopefully can visit with a few more Canadian hunters…Good hunting!