Bleech: Tentative Fighting, Light Scraping

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.

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Last evening, while scouting for a tree for my climbing stand that would get me close to this 10-point buck that I just recently found on a trail camera in the Allegheny National Forest, I saw a young buck with a group of does and fawns. I expect it was a sibling of one of the does. It will probably not be with them once one of the does comes into heat. The buck was not paying any particular attention to the does. They were in a mowed, grassy field where I often see deer. It is my scouting and hunting partner, Mike Stimmell's, yard.

A large share of the numerous bucks spotted over the past few days were feeding. It seems that feeding is the primary reason for moving, at least for a while yet. The period that most hunters call the peak of the rut is actually the time when bucks are moving a lot in search of hot does. It lasts longer than the actual peak of the rut.

From the Catskill region of New York, David Hartman, who is president of the New York State Whitetail Management Coalition, says that bachelor groups have broken up, but he knows of no fighting yet, and he has not found any rubs.

Meanwhile in the Finger Lakes region, outdoor writer Bill Vaznis witnessed a somewhat mild fight between a couple of nice bucks. It might be better termed a workout. The bucks locked antlers in a less than aggressive manner, then pushed each other around for a while before parting ways with no apparent winner or loser.

I happened to meet Matt Rosenthal, owner of Beaver Creek Fly Shop, in Hagerstown, Maryland, along a Lake Erie tributary while fishing for steelhead. He is an avid deer hunter, especially with archery gear. "Until now it's been too hot and muggy," he said. "And buggy. It's just full of bugs!" Rosenthal has seen some rubs and some very early scraping along the edges of corn fields. Those scrapes have been small, maybe not even rut related. He has seen some bucks tapping antlers, but they are not fighting yet.