Bleech: Look for Subtle Rut Activity

Northeast Rut Reporter Mike Bleech has been hunting whitetails in his native Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast for more than … Continued

Northeast Rut Reporter Mike Bleech has been hunting whitetails in his native Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast for more than four decades. A Vietnam veteran and full-time freelance outdoor writer, Bleech has had more than 5000 of his articles published. States covered: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA OH, MD, DE.

Nov. 27: Note the thickness of the neck and waist on this buck. Although the rack is modest, the buck is probably 2-1/2 or 3-1/2 years-old. Bucks that live in large forested areas generally do not carry antlers of the same quality as bucks that live in areas where nourishment is much better. Acorn crops in the area have not been good for a couple of years. Acorns play a major role in deer nourishment throughout most of the Appalachian Region.

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Also note the posture of this buck, particularly the right front leg. The buck is at a scrape which has been hit quite regularly for the past four weeks. One slightly larger buck was photographed here, as well as a couple of does. Although it should be classified as a “major scrape,” it does not appear to be. Only trail camera evidence reveals the activity which takes place here. Only one small twig was broken above the scrape. It does not have a large circumference. Also, it has continually been covered by leaves from three levels of vegetation.

What stands out more is that the scrape is at the intersection of two well worn trails in a crabapple thicket.

Fletch 66 has hit the nail right on the head, in my opinion, with the comment on moving stands into thicker cover. Sometimes hunters pay too much attention to things like using scents or grunting, and not enough to that particular aspect of stand placement. Deer do not grow old by making themselves easy prey to hunters. This year my favorite hunting area was virtually taken from me by a new group of hunters who have set up so many tree stands that I can hardly get out of sight of one. Every one of these stands appears to be placed where it is because of open area.

Although I did not bowhunt that area I did run trail cams in there. While walking through, walking near tree stands was unavoidable. I never saw anyone actually hunting. Every stand I saw was within 50 yards of very thick areas, and when I went into those thick areas I saw well worn trails. I did not see a single gut pile. Had they placed the stands in the thick areas their results almost certainly would have been better.