Bleech: An Uneven Rut (And What to Do About It)

Northeast Rut Reporter Mike Bleech has been hunting whitetails in his native Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast for more than … Continued

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.

After spending the past few days hunting in northern Maine with Don Burnett at #9 Lake Outfitters, I can see why determining the rut status in some regions is difficult. Deer density is not high and the cover is dense. We have found just a few scrapes and rubs. The one buck my hunting partner passed on appeared to be hunting does, but that is just a guess. I saw a doe, which was accompanied by two fawns that makes me suspect that the doe has not been bred yet. Unseasonably warm weather with no snow almost certainly has played havoc with normal deer patterns.

Our trucker friend, Dave Baker, reported that he saw numerous road kills, while driving from northeast Ohio to southcentral Ohio. Nearly all were does, and none were big bucks. Baker did see a very big buck while hunting the first day of the Pennsylvania firearms season on Monday.

From the southern Adirondack Mountains, John Havlick at Frank’s Gun Shop in Gloversville, said it has been a strange rut, an opinion given by several of my contacts. Neither he nor his hunting partners have seen fresh rubs or scrapes lately. None of his customers have seen bucks chasing does. Instead, they have seen bucks simply mingling with does. Some of the harvested bucks he has seen had swollen necks, some did not.

Marty Harrington was not at his store, Marty’s Sports, at Bennington, Vermont for the past few days. Instead he was bowhunting in northeast Ohio where he took a 160-class buck. He rattled that one in. He also rattled in five smaller bucks.

We should be in the second rut peak across much of the Northeast Region now, though with the unusual rut that most hunters have been reporting, that second peak may be difficult to recognize. I will suggest that we take Marty Harrington’s lead and try rattling, or using a grunt tube. Estrous scents may also be effective.