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.
Our roving truck driver, Dave Baker, noticed a distinct change over the past few days. He has seen many more dead deer alongside the roads. Across northern Pennsylvania and northern Ohio most of these deer were does. But along Route 35 near Gallipolis, Ohio, he saw seven dead bucks and three dead does in a stretch of just 30 miles. Actually two of the deer he called bucks were guesses, but when a deer has its head cut off it is a pretty safe bet that someone wanted a nice set of antlers. The other bucks were 6-points and 8-points.
Chris Smith has been trying to get his sights on a nice buck in a setting that borders a residential area near Syracuse, New York, for a couple years. His persistence finally paid off when he intercepted the buck on its way from a food plot he had planted to a bedding area. After waiting until there was enough light to be sure he was looking at the right deer, his arrow double-lunged the buck and it went just 30 yards. The 4-1/2 year-old buck, shown here and in a trail cam photo Smith took two years ago, weighed 195 pounds after being field dressed, an impressive trophy.
According to Smith, “He certainly did not seem to be rutting yet as his tarsals did not have that typical rut smell. However, at the farm my dad owns we have been seeing new scrapes every time we go out, and my dad saw a couple rubs Sunday that were not there on Saturday. Additionally, the trail cameras are now showing lone bucks, rather than two or three bucks together.”
That kind of observation often leads to success in deer hunting regardless of the rut.
Mary Ann Hauser took her buck this fall in a completely different setting. She was hunting near camp at Tionesta, Pennsylvania, a big woods area, when she took her best buck in more than 30 years of hunting.
Hauser was hunting last Friday with a crossbow near scrapes by a corn field. Since it was getting late in the day and rain was falling, she grunted twice to try to stir up some action. It worked. A buck responded by coming right to her.
In northern Maine, Don Burnett at No. 9 Lake Outfitters reports that does are in the low country, but bucks are still staying at higher elevations. This is typical for that area.
Late in responding to sweetloumoney1 in northeast PA about using estrous scent now, but here goes. October is not at all too early for does to come into heat, so if you like to use estrous scent then, by all means try it. However, I would be more apt to concentrate on eliminating odors and use a grunt tube tweaked to make higher pitched grunts.
Commenting to Matt Weiser in Grand Island, New York about the timing of fighting bucks: since one of those bucks was 1-1/2 years-old, it is doubtful that any conflict would exist. Also, deer do not adhere to any “rules” we hunters may make. You may see bucks together at any time. We can only make generalities. And since you were contending with two very wary sets of eyes, ears and noses, it is very tough to get a good shooting situation.
For Blackberry1 in Cameron and Potter Counties, Pennsylvania about the scarce mast crop: deer hunting usually is easier when there is less food, not harder. When food is all over, hungry deer are all over. But they will congregate around food when it is scarce. There are a lot of apples just a couple counties to your west, so I guess it might be the same in your area. And though acorns are scarce, if you do find a good tree you may have found a great stand location. However, deer have a very long list of things on their diet. Try placing your stand at a funnel, or use the terrain for the same effect.
Soon, though, feeding will have much less to do with hunting bucks. We are getting very close to the peak of the rut, depending on where in the Northeast Region you live and hunt.
Great back and forth on the comments. Now you are getting things done. I pay attention and learn a lot, hope you do too. Each one of us has things to share and things to learn.