Big woods, rolling farmland, woodlot, swamp, ridge and valley–this region features every type of whitetail terrain imaginable. 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
Overall Activity Status:** Oct. 1: Deer, especially does, are mostly in feeding mode. You should see some rubs and maybe even scrapes. Most bucks have shed their velvet.
Fighting: Bucks are still fighting, trying to establish dominance. Fights now may be vicious. Some bucks will bear severe wounds.
Rub Making: Rubs are increasing now. There is validity to the notion that bigger bucks rub bigger trees, but what you really want to find are rubs that spread into several trees or bushes. Some bushes will be torn from the ground. You may even see a buck with brush tangled in its antlers.
Chasing:** Any chasing you observe now is likely playfulness, such as a young buck chasing a sibling doe, or young bucks chasing one another. Chasing that results from fights typically do not last for long.
Daytime Movement:** Daytime activity depends mostly on location. Deer may be moving during the day in the most remote areas if the temperature is not too high. Where deer live within close proximity to humans, meaning they are likely to see humans frequently, probably they will be seen only early mornings or late evenings. The new moon last week might be an exception that most hunters overlook.
Estrous Signs: It is still too early for much in the way of estrous signs, though not out of the question.
X Factor: The big bucks are not yet ranging far and wide in search of hot does. They will be loners, though. Bachelor groups may exist, but probably will not include many mature bucks. This is a good time to fill a doe tag. If you want to hunt bucks, stay away from open areas where bucks are seen regularly. Hunting big bucks certainly is not a waste of time, however better times are ahead. Do not use limited vacation days yet.
The doe above, which one of my trail cameras photographed last week, is in the process of making a small scrape. Hunters usually misinerpret these as minor scrapes made by bucks. I’ve seen this happening a few times from a tree stand throughout the hunting seasons.