If you haven’t noticed, the reports are coming in at an increasing pace as we all settle into November.
What reports, you might ask? In this case, we’re talking about news of big deer sightings in local fields, viral tweets and social media posts about big bucks tagged by local hunters, and of course, increasing deer/car collisions as big bucks suddenly appear and race across area roadways.
Why the sudden surge in big buck news?
Simple, the pre-rut phase of late October and early November is slowly turning into the full blown whitetail rut as bucks chase does during another mid-November breeding cycle.
Meaning that if you’re a deer hunter, get in the local woods and stay in your stand as long as you possibly can. And if you’re a motorist, drive with extra caution because you never know when a big Texomaland buck will see or smell a doe and throw caution to the wind.
Annually producing the lion’s share of big whitetail buck news each fall, the local rut should be peaking in intensity over the next one to two weeks no matter which side of the Red River you find yourself on.
On the Lone Star State side of the border stream, an often cited breeding date study done by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department a number of years ago confirms the peak breeding dates in the local woods.
For the Post Oak Savannah region (which Grayson County falls into), the average peak breeding dates fall within the Nov. 10-11 timeframe. Over in the Cross Timbers region (which includes Cooke, Montague, and Clay counties), TPWD’s landmark study shows an average peak breeding date of Nov. 15.
If you’re reading this, then I probably don’t need to tell you that all of those dates will occur over the next week here in North Texas.
What about in southern Oklahoma? Well, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation big game biologist Dallas Barber says that the rut dates are similar there too, peaking between now and Thanksgiving Day.
“All of our studies have shown that the peak of the rut is typically the second week of November,” said Barber. “Obviously, that’s a bell curve. Some does are bred before that, some are bred after that, but the peak is generally the second week of November. That’s stayed pretty consistent over the years.”
Barber says the reason for that consistency is because of sunlight, not chilly temperature readings.
“Our studies on rut activity shows that it is strictly influenced by the photoperiod, or amount of light in the day,” said Barber.
Over the years, many a spirited deer camp conversation around the campfire has debated what fuels the autumn whitetail rut and why it seems more pronounced some years as compared to others.
Generally speaking, Barber said the rut occurs at the same time each fall. And in conversations with him and other whitetail biologists, the idea is also confirmed that the annual breeding cycle also checks in at the same level of activity and consistency too.
What can change from one year to the next is the amount of daytime activity by bucks as they chase does and try to propagate the species for another year. If the weather is cooler, the deer — wearing their heavier winter coats by now — are less nocturnal. That means more daytime sightings, and thus, the appearance that the rut is somehow stronger.
All of this is how the Good Lord designed it, allowing for maximum breeding to occur while also ensuring that whitetail fawns are born at the right time next year, hitting the ground when wintertime wanes and spring’s food resources begin to green up and increase.
With all of this in mind, most hunters know that the annual autumn rut is responsible for the year’s best woodsy show. In short, if you’ve ever dreamed of tagging a big bruiser buck worthy of the cover of North American Whitetail magazine, now is the time to get into a deer stand.
Take, for instance, the Grayson County rumor mill that started to kick into overdrive this week as a photo began to spread of a big non-typical buck possibly taken in the local woods.
I say possibly because little is known about the deer, except that it excited passerby’s at the bridge intersection of Hwy. 120 and Hwy. 75 in recent days as they spied the big non-typical buck lying in the back of a pickup truck.
No word on who the hunter might be, if the buck is indeed local, or what the score might be, but the multi-point rack is certainly reminiscent of other big non-typicals taken in recent years here in the Red River Valley
Even more big buck news hit the Internet in recent days following the first bowhunting segment last weekend at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. Looking at the Segment A thread on the popular Texasbowhunter.com forum, there appears to have been several record book contenders taken by archers.
One of those is a big eight-point, another appears to be a big tall-tined 10-pointer, and another is a mass-heavy mainframe 12-point typical sporting a kicker point. No word on the hunters identities or potential scores, but all three whitetails appear to be candidates for the Texas Big Game Awards Program and/or the Pope and Young Club record book.
And then there’s the latest Boone and Crockett Club contender news, this report coming from a 30-point non-typical buck reportedly taken last weekend in southern Oklahoma’s Love County.
KXII reported on this buck earlier in the week after Joe Pratt downed the big deer last Sunday on the final day of the 2019 Oklahoma muzzleloader season.
The potential Booner buck from Love County is said to have a green score of 236 1/8-inches after a measurer put a scoring tape to the non-typical whitetail. If that number holds true, the buck would become the #10 entry in the state’s non-typical listings for ODWC’s Cy Curtis Program.
At that number, the Pratt buck would also rank first in the ODWC record book for Love County deer, toppling the current Love County benchmark buck listed at 217 0/8-inches. Incidentally, that current No. 1 non-typical in Love County was taken on Nov. 24, 1996 at the end of the Sooner State’s gun deer season that year.
With the whitetail rut peaking across Texomaland in the next week or two, the guess here is that there’s plenty more big buck news to come.
In other words, now is the time to quit reading, grab your camo, head for a treestand, and wait all day if necessary to see what might happen.
Because the annual rutting madness is coming to a nearby patch of deer woods, a real life whitetail hunting show in the midst of Creation’s best autumn color that you certainly don’t want to miss.