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.
It was dark, very dark, before I found time to check the lone trail camera I had out while I spent a few days scouting for deer in the Adirondacks and in Vermont. The woods appeared different, of course, when viewed in the modest light of my headlight. The first thing I really saw was a bear that appeared from nowhere, about 20 years ahead. It ran off and I assumed that was the end of the encounter.
The bear assumed differently. It followed everywhere I went, which involved a lot of twisting and turning. In fact, I got twisted around because the bear diverted my attention from what I should have been doing. The best thing to do, I decided was to leave the bear to its business, and for that matter it could keep the trail cam. Looking any more could wait until morning.
Trucker Dave Baker noted a difference in his travels over the past few days. Dead deer along the highways became more numerous. But only a couple were bucks and neither were large. That does not seem to indicate any rut activity. When the peak of the rut arrives it will be very obvious to Baker.
Bucks appear to be more active in the Green Mountain National Forest than they are in southern Vermont. Across Lake Champlain in the Adirondacks reports are similar. There is no clear dividing line between areas with deer patterns.
In west-central Ohio, rubs and scrapes both are abundant now. Hunters still report that they are watching bucks feeding. We can be quite certain that some breeding has taken place, but nothing that approaches the peak of the rut. That peak is getting closer, though, so be alert. Rutting activity may pick up at any time. Any day there may be a hot doe in your hunting area and it will get the bucks very excited.
Eastern Ohio deer activity has been similar to elsewhere at the approximate latitude, numerous rubs and scrapes are being made every day. Dan Albaugh, who took a nice 8-point earlier in October close to the northwest Pennsylvania/western New York border, says he has seen fresh scrapes while fishing within the past few days.
Farther south, on Maryland and southern Ohio, scrapes are not as numerous. Bucks have been rubbing for some time, but not often making scrapes. The scrapes hunters have described have not been the large, primary scrapes, but they could grow to become that way. This all could have changed by the time you read this.
No reports of bucks fighting were heard from anywhere in the region. That might be over to a large extent, except perhaps in the north woods.