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Waiting for the Second Rut Peak

Things are settling into more of a typical rut now that the peak has passed, at least in most of the region. Bucks are still enthused about breeding, of course, and will service any does that come into heat. All the while hunters should have good results using estrous-based scent products.

Our most recent responses from readers indicate that the rut peak passed in Massachusetts, and most buck activity there now is at night. I like the comment about deer feeding to recover from the rut. I often wonder how much bucks eat during the rut. Even though the bucks still are on the lookout for hot does, it seems reasonable that they have more time to eat now. And then there is the almost-always reliable notion that bucks will be hanging around does, and most does are feeding.

We had a couple of very interesting comments recently from eastern Ohio. I have hunted that general area, and my usual stomping grounds in northwest Pennsylvania are nor so far away. I concur—the rut has been strange. Two hunters there reported seeing little deer sign and no big bucks. Somehow the primary rut peak slid past you. This has not been the case everywhere, but those comments have been similar to several others heard this fall.

My most recent scouting drive through northwest Pennsylvania, Wednesday, revealed several deer feeding in fields during mid-afternoon, where manure has been spread. They were too far away to see antlers, and I could not stop to glass them. I saw only one buck while driving a nearly impassable dirt road along the edge of a swamp. It was on the trail of a doe. It was not a big buck; its antlers were just tall spikes. But its neck was very thick and it was not slender in the waist, indicating that it may have been at least a couple years older than the spike antlers might indicate. This happened about 1-1/2 weeks after the primary rut peak.

Many hunters will be anxiously awaiting the secondary rut peak. But if you had a hard time determining when the first and major rut peak happened, determining when a second rut peak will happen is considerably more difficult because fewer does will be involved. It should happen in most of the region during the second week of December, maybe about a week later in the north woods, sooner in a few places. Do not wait for the secondary rut, though. It will not be a lot different than what goes on between the primary rut peak and the secondary rut peak. Mix estrous-related hunting tactics with feeding-related hunting tactics and enjoy.

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