Whitetail Hunting photo

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.

From Clymer, New York, in the western end of the state, comes a report of an old 8-point buck taken by a bowhunter. The buck had a very swollen neck, and it was chasing a doe when it was killed.

This buck is the basic story on what is going on in most of the Northeast Region. Bucks are chasing does. That buck was not taken during the peak of the rut, but the peak is probably getting underway.

According to state wildlife agencies, the peak of the rut occurs during the first 10 days to two weeks of November in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, maybe lasting into the middle of November in Maryland and southern Ohio. Information about the peak of the rut is not readily available for every state, but from this information you can get a very good idea of when it will happen in your area.

But–and this is a big but–the breeding season, considering all parts of our Northeast Region, runs from September into January. Try to avoid using hunter jargon to get a better picture of the rut. It can be misleading.

Starting in the northern parts of New York, and at higher elevations, the peak of the rut is more like the second and third week of November. This time frame holds mostly true up through Maine.

David Hartman, president of New York State Whitetail Management Coalition, lives in the Catskill Region of New York, one of those higher elevation areas. He reported today that bucks are finally making scrapes in numbers, and they are responding well to grunts. However, some bucks still are seen in bachelor groups. This is very late for bachelor groups, especially when it is not an isolated case.

Increasingly more bucks are being taken while they are pursuing hot does. If the moon phase has anything to do with this, it is not affecting when the does come into heat, but what time of the day deer are active. It seems that deer are more active during midday within a few days on both sides of a full moon. Regardless, the Hunters’ Moon is a great time to be outdoors hunting deer.

Every state in the region except Vermont currently has deer in-season for bowhunters. In the Northeast region, bowhunters do have a clear advantage when it comes to hunting during the peak of the rut.