We’ve seen some changes in deer behavior during the past few days. Mike Stimmell, my scouting partner, saw two bucks that were either sparring very hard or fighting. They were both fair-sized 6- to 8-point-class bucks. He also saw a very big buck with three does and a fawn, and it was sniffing one of the females. No mounting or attempts to mount, and the doe did not try to separate from the other does. Stimmell also saw several fresh rubs.
We’ve also seen changes in deer movement along a route where my Stimmel and I have been driving a scouting circuit. Late last week we saw 37 deer; about 10 to 20 would be normal.
All of the bucks we saw on that circuit were either loners or in the company of one, or more does. The bucks with does were older bucks.
For the first time this fall, I found some brush on which a buck with several tines had taken out its wrath. Apparently the brush became locked in the buck’s tines, since some of the saplings were ripped apart. I take it as a sign of a very horny, frustrated buck, indicating that the rut is getting started.
This afternoon, while my pal was in his tree stand, a pretty good buck approached to about 80 yards, walked onto the trail my friend uses to walk to his stand, then began walking away. A bleat call got a good response. “He made a bee-line right to me. He didn’t even hesitate.”
It got within about 35 yards, milled around for several seconds then disappeared into thick cover. A grunt call got no response. Later a 4-point came closer to his stand where it rubbed on saplings for a couple minutes. “He was really going to town on it!”
It would seem likely that hurricane/tropical storm Sandy would affect the rut by reducing deer movement. But I doubt very much that it would have any affect on does coming into heat. If it does hinder movement and does are not bred, they will come into heat again next month.
This evening, which was supposed to have been rainy with strong winds, the weather was much milder than predicted. On our scouting circuit, which covers 32 miles, we saw 41 deer. Only two could be recognized as bucks, one a fair 8-point, the other a spike. About 75 percent of the deer we saw were bedded. Even though we saw more deer on the loop than on any other run this fall, we could not say deer were moving.
I plan to be in my tree stand as much as I can.