Northeast Rut Could Be Drawn Out This Year

Overall Activity Status: While driving home around 10 p.m. late last week, I had to stop for a very nice 7-point buck that was standing in the middle of the road. If ever there was a love-struck buck, he was it. Paying absolutely no attention to my truck or the beam from the headlights, the buck turned in a circle, looking for what, I do not know. Finally he ambled just off the road, and I was able to slowly pass by without incident.

That, however, was the first buck activity I have seen in a couple of days. Several other hunters in my area have reported seeing the same behavior, as have hunters from Maryland and Maine.

I have no doubt that some hunters have seen rutting activity over the past few days. It just takes one hot doe to get an area stirred up.

Fighting: No new fighting reported anywhere.

Rub and Scrape Making: After a good deal of rub making last week, there has been little, or none, this week.

Chasing: Not as much chasing this week as last week, but it is still happening. Nowhere near any of my stands, though.

Daytime Movement: I saw absolutely no deer this week during daylight hours, and I spent a lot of time on the roads. A good share of road kills last week were young bucks, no mature bucks.

Estrous Signs: Driving our usual 32-mile loop Thursday evening, my friend and I saw one doe that was acting as if it might be getting ready. It was urinating on its tarsal glands, and a yearling was awfully interested in what she was doing.

X Factor: Also during that loop, we saw a total of 37 deer. About 75 percent of them were laying down. Only four were bucks, and just one of them was a mature buck. Normally we see a higher percentage of bucks, and more mature bucks.

The thing about a few slow days is that they often are followed by much greater activity.

Bucks are very interested in does now. Even if a doe is not in heat, bucks are hanging around waiting for it to happen. Tyler Wagner, a hard-core bowhunter who lives in Warren County, Pennsylvania, saw a real bruiser of a buck, November 2, hanging around a doe. It was following about 15 yards behind.

"I don't think she was in heat," Wagner said. "I think she came in to feed at a food plot we had put in, and he was just tagging along."

When the buck came within 15 yards, Wagner released his arrow. The photo above tells you how the hunt ended.

If you are fortunate enough to be hunting now, this is a good lesson. No does need to be in heat for hunting to get exciting once the rutting season has begun. In fact, in years when actual breeding is spread over a long period--which so far seems to be the case this year--hunters may see more deer than when the breeding period is shorter and more intense. It may not be as exciting as seeing several bucks chasing does, but you only need one buck within shooting range to make a deer season.

Congratulations to those of you who have gotten a buck already. To everyone else, keep at it, have fun and be safe.