Rut Tactics Taking Nice Bucks

Over the past few days I have seen an increase in rubbing and scraping in Pennsylvania's Warren and Crawford counties. Small scrapes, which have been absent until now, are appearing. The rubs indicate a multi-tined buck aggressively tearing apart brush or several small trees.

From Connecticut comes a report of success from one of our more serious bowhunters, Steve Topper (above, with bow), who put an arrow through the heart of a nice 140-class buck last week at 12 yards. Steve said he is 90 percent sure that the buck was coming in to a Golden Estrous Wick that he had placed 20 yards from his setup, indicating that bucks are on the prowl for does in heat. Even if the scent did not attract the buck, Steve thinks it at least distracted it long enough for him to make his shot, because the buck had spotted him in the tree, but it kept looking toward the wick.

"That buck came in curling his lips at least a half-dozen times," Topper said. "It was coming right at (the wick)."

Topper said bucks are on the move "big time." Bucks have been rubbing for the past 2 ½ weeks, and scraping even longer.

Another successful deer hunter, Christopher Smith, whose successful hunt was reported here last year, scored again Saturday, November 17, with this beautiful buck in Wayne County, New York. He set up in a swampy, wooded area between a couple of unpicked corn fields.

"Around 8:45 I thought I heard a grunt, so I grunted back and used an estrus can call. Around 10 minutes later I heard another grunt that was closer. I again grunted and about a minute later caught movement," Smith reported.

At first he thought it was a forkhorn he had seen earlier, but it turned out to be the buck he wanted. It was chasing a doe.

"He stopped chasing her, turned around, and came back to chase off the other buck that was only 20 yards from me," Smith related. "As soon as the big buck stopped, I shot him with my Savage 20 gauge."

He had a deer management permit that allowed him to harvest a doe, so he stayed in his stand. A half-hour later an 8-point buck came by, chasing three does and a fawn. He took the biggest doe.

According to Smith, "They were definitely still in the swing of things on Saturday. My best buck and opening day ever!"

These two successful hunts make it appear that the rut may have peaked last week, at least where they hunted. Things I observed near my home in northwest Pennsylvania do not dispute it, so maybe the Pennsylvania Game Commission was close enough with their prediction of a November 14 rut peak.

Of course, the rut does not peak at the same time throughout our Northeast Region. And in many places the rut peak was less intense than in some years, enough so that it is hardly a certainty that this is the peak. That kind of uncertainty helps keep deer hunting interesting.