Don’t look now, but a glance at the calendar reveals that the best deer hunting time of the year is now at hand.
Not only is the mid-November rut quickly closing in, but so too is some very chilly weather.
With low temperature readings forecast to dip down to a frosty 30 degrees — or lower — tomorrow morning, there should be no shortage of daytime sightings of big bucks on the prowl this weekend. And unless I miss my guess, expect to hear a number of big trophy buck reports between now and the next time you read something in this space.
That’s because the final gasp of the annual chasing phase of the whitetail’s pre-rut period is currently going on in the local woods. And that has local bucks all stirred up as the annual surge of testosterone fuels their burly bodies to go running through the woods looking for a little whitetail romance.
According to a study of peak rut dates by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the annual breeding cycle tops out in the Post Oak Savannah region (generally to the south and east of Grayson County) on Nov. 10 and 11.
Just to the west and southwest of Grayson County in the Cross Timbers region of North Texas, TPWD says that the average peak breeding date is Nov. 15.
For what it’s worth, conversations that I’ve had with local bowhunters over the years — and my own personal observations out in the field — often bring forth the idea that the peak of the rut here in our local backyard is somewhere from Nov. 13-20.
But I’ll quickly point out that I’m no biologist, only a writer who likes to be sitting in a tree come mid-November.
Dallas Barber, the big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, points out that the peak of the rut can actually mean different things to different people.
“Hunters will have a different definition of what the peak of the rut is since what they’re looking for is the most chasing action, the most bucks with their nose to the ground,” Barber told me in an interview last fall. “But for a biologist, we’re going to define the peak of the rut as when the most does (are bred). That’s the peak of the rut to us.”
With chilly weather pushing love-sick bucks up and on their feet during daylight hours, there’s little doubt that there should be plenty of deer hunting excitement on both sides of the Red River in the time leading up to Thanksgiving.
And Barber has some advice for how hunters can up their odds for some deer hunting success as the annual day of gratitude, feasting, and football approaches.
First, now is the time to empty a hunter’s bag of tricks in the deer woods, using grunt calls and rattling horns to get the attention of a rutting buck trotting through the woods. I’d add that if using attractant scents like Tink’s 69 is going to work for a hunter, it’s liable to be over the next several days.
Second, the ODWC biologist says to focus on areas that does are using heavily, something that numerous deer tracks littering the muddy ground will point out.
“Does are going to be keying on bedding areas and feeding grounds (right now),” said Barber. “That means that bucks are going to be scent checking those areas pretty frequently as does begin to come into estrous.”
Next, the ODWC biologist — and Oklahoma State University graduate looking forward to this weekend’s Bedlam football game with OU — says to never overlook a bottleneck or pinch-point area that funnels deer movement down into a smaller area.
Finally, Barber suggests that hunters go early, stay late, and don’t leave their deer stands during the middle of the day. Because the deer hunting action is likely to be as good as it’s going to get this season, at least over the next 10-15 days.
Meaning that now is the time to sit and stay, all day long.
Because you just never know what the day might bring for a deer hunter guarding a good trail during the peak of the rut.
With a little bit of woodsy good luck — and a good shot too — the results might be a massive Texomaland buck that will shut social media pages down on both sides of the Red River.
Thanks to the best time of the year for a deer hunter, the magical days of the November rut.