Bleech: Get in the Woods, Stay in the Woods

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: Deer are still very active across much of the Northeast Region. Trucker, Dave Baker phoned from a rest stop to inform me that he had seen more road-kill deer across central Pennsylvania and down to Dayton, Ohio, than any other time this fall. One thing he has not been seeing this fall is any large number of big bucks. Nearly all have been 6-points or forkhorns.

Fighting: Some fighting is still goes on, certainly, but none has been reported. When bucks of equal size meet in the presence of a hot doe, things can get pretty rough.

Rub & Scrape Making: Rubs are of a different sort since late October. They often look like a fight took place because several small trees may be torn out by the roots. Visualize, if you can, a big buck with a couple of 5-foot trees tangled in its antlers.

Chasing: Chasing is still near rut peak level, or at least it seems so by the number of reports I have heard. The rut is just now getting to a peak status in the far north of the region according to what I have been hearing.

Daytime Movement: Daytime activity is mostly a factor of weather now. Unseasonably warm days keep deer bedded. A cold snap will get them going. Remember that unseasonably warm now, might have been considered cold a few weeks ago.

Estrous Signs: Numerous does still are coming into heat.

X Factor: If I were to guess, and why not, I would guess that the rut peak was not as intense as it has been some years, and that more does are coming into heat after the normal peak of the rut ends. A day does not go by that a hunter does not tell me of seeing a buck chasing a doe. Since this represents only a very small portion of hunters, it should mean quite a bit of breeding is going on.

Keep this in mind: rut peak is a term humans came up with, and defined. It is not a rule that deer must stick with.

Keep up the use of grunt tubes and estrous scents. Still hunting or stand hunting both can be very effective. Still hunting is generally a matter of preference since it is relatively difficult. Look for a funnel if you stand. And stay in the woods all day.