Chances will never be better to find deer
The prime time for deer hunting is rapidly approaching and the weather is not cooperating.
This time of the year, we are supposed to have cold nights and chilly days. The deer have grown their winter coats, so they are not moving around during the day as they normally would. There are some signs the rut is on, but I have yet to see the normal frenzy of deer running around in all directions.
I have seen rubs on the trees for the last couple of weeks. A rub is where a buck will find a tree of the appropriate size to finish rubbing the velvet off his antlers, marking his territory, and polishing the sharp points to a glistening white. A person can usually tell how big the deer was that rubbed a spot by the diameter of the tree. A small buck will tear up a one- or two-inch diameter tree, ripping off bark and limbs a foot or two up the trunk. If a person sees a tree that is 12 to 18 inches around with fresh, deep scars in the bark, a big buck is working the area. They will knock off fairly good-sized branches up as high as four feet off the ground. Cedar trees seem to be a favorite in this area.
In just the last few days, I have started seeing scrapes. These are marking areas made by the bucks to set the boundaries of the territory they claim. At different intervals, usually along the edge of the timber, a buck will find a twig on a branch that hangs down four to five feet off the ground. He will rub and lick the branch until it has no leaves and rub the corners of his eyes on the end. He then paws away all the leaves and grass directly under that twig. The scrape is complete when he marks the ground much like a male dog would mark a fire hydrant or car tire. The bucks check their scrapes daily, stopping occasionally to use one of their rubs. The territory they claim may be as small as a quarter mile radius to up to several miles. It is a lot of work checking the perimeter, especially in warm weather. Most of this work is currently being done at night.
As the temperatures drop, the breeding season will heat up. The rut, checking range, chasing does, and keeping challenging bucks out of their territory, will become a 24-hour-a-day job. When it starts in earnest, only bow hunters and body shops really appreciate the result.
Bucks will be blindly chasing does or other bucks that are interloping. Hunters have a good chance of getting that deer they have been watching and cars have a good chance of running into or being run into by a deer that is not paying attention.
Deer will not be paying attention for the next two or three weeks. I predict by this weekend deer will be running around like they do not have good sense. This will continue for another three weeks. If a person is inclined to go bow hunting, this is the time to get out and go for it.
If one is considering jumping in the car and going for a ride or to work, they might reconsider.
The warm weather has delayed the rut just long enough, the pent up energy is going to make every deer in the area crazy. Rather than take that leisurely ride or waste a day and risk injury going to work, head into the woods. Chances of bagging a deer will never be better.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.