Many of you are probably doing the same things I’vee been doing while scouting for deer now. One of those things was mentioned in a message from Robert Rogan, who lives in Connecticut. He also has been scouting in a couple of southeastern New York counties, looking for deer that made it through the season, especially big bucks you knew were there last year. Depending on where you hunt, it can be difficult to keep track of the bucks that were killed from your hunting area. Remember that “killed” does not always involve hunters. It includes motor vehicles and coyotes. Many hunters seem to be under the impression that big, old bucks are safe from coyotes, but that’s not so. Next to fawns they are most vulnerable. The rut, which can last about four months, takes an awful lot out of the bucks, and predation can occur when it’s over.
Hard as we try, probably we never learn about every buck that inhabits the areas we hunt. But the more we know the better. Sometimes just knowing that big bucks are there is enough to give us confidence, which keeps us hunting hard.
Look for tracks in the mud if you do not find any rut sign. This can confirm that big deer are in the area, and it provides good clues for trail camera locations.
While hunting sheds this spring. Rogan learned that one buck in particular made it through the last season. As you can see in the photo here, he found both sides of the rack of a very nice buck.
Rogan has a trail cam on one trail that is between bedding and feeding areas. So far he has photographed only does. He figures the bucks will show up once they get more interested in the females.
All of the bucks he has photographed in Dutchess County, New York, were still in velvet. No rubs there or in his Westchester County area.
I contacted Jamie Wareham at S&S Taxidermy Archery Pro Shop in Springville, New York, near the western end of the state, to see if the situation there was any different. Jamie said he has seen deer moving from 11:00 a.m. to noon. Bucks were separated from does, but they followed only about a minute behind. All of the bucks in that area are still in velvet.
If you followed this rut blog through last year, you may recall one particular major scrape I photographed through the entire period. Deer had been actively using it when I fount it in mid-August. This year I set a trail cam there August 31, and it has been used, though not so much as in 2012, judging from appearances.
I keep a string of trail cameras through three northwest and northcentral Pennsylvania counties, which keeps me in touch with the “Big Woods” region and the flatter farm country along the Ohio border. Soon that string will stretch from southwest New York, through northwest Pennsylvania, and into northeast Ohio, which will provide good intel on deer movement. Bucks are moving very little now, while their antlers are soft, but very soon we should start to see rubs and antlers without velvet. No doubt some have already shed.