Bleech: Rut Buck or Not?

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.

Dec. 6: Photos of a magnificent buck arrived in my email following a newspaper column I had written about hunting the glaciated, more agricultural portion of our county to find bigger bucks. Along with the photos was a message about the photos proving my point. I wanted more of the story.

Worth noting is that the photo was sent by my friend, Les Sanford, who is a retired Pennsylvania Game Commission forester. His enlightened management of one state game land in particular has made it the favorite deer hunting area for numerous hunters.

The big buck was taken by Jay Gerber on a state game land. He said the buck showed no immediate signs of rutting. He did not use scents, nor a grunt tube or any other deer call. That is only part of the story, though.

"However there was good sign of deer in the immediate area," Gerber wrote in an e-mail about his hunt. While scouting the area with his father they found numerous tracks in the ravine where he hunted.

"Also, we found multiple rubs on trees of varying sizes and what appeared to be a scrape...all nearby. We did speak with several different individuals that saw the buck just before I shot it. One group of three people (saw it at 3:45pm) said it was following three does. Another individual (saw it just after 4:00pm) said he saw it following a single doe. He spooked them. The doe ran uphill, the buck ran downhill in my direction. I shot the buck just before 4:15pm."

So perhaps the buck was not chasing a doe when Gerber shot it, but it was right in the midst of the rut.

Rutting bucks that are hot on the trail of a doe, sometimes with their nose literally under a does's tail, may become oblivious to everything else. That is why we see so many mangled bucks along the highways at this time of the year. Sometimes, though, maybe where breeding is less than imminent, a buck can be chased from a doe and this appears to be one such case. Doubtlessly, if the buck hat not met Gerber's accurate eye it would have returned to that doe.