The first part of my deer season wrapped up on Saturday, and I will have to wait until after Christmas to resume hunting. Unfortunately this split comes just as if it appears that rutting is picking up again after a week of relatively little local action. Today, my hunting partner and I found three active scrapes. This is unusual, the first time I can recall ever seeing active scrapes so late. But it is not the latest I have seen rutting activity. I have watched bucks chasing does at least through mid-December.
All it took to find active scrapes was a change in hunting location, moving eastward into McKean County, Pennsylvania. This is still in the Allegheny National Forest, on its highest ridge.
Deer are mostly nocturnal now, but over the past couple of days we have seen does in fields an hour before dark. And we had one other surprise: a buck tending a doe, which appeared to have been wounded in the rear right leg. I assume this was rutting activity.
From mid-Maine, Steve Carpenteri said that the rut is well over now. He also said that he did not see a deer all through hunting season. It seems that it is no wonder that he sees so little rutting sign with such low deer density. Also, the deer that are there probably have no trouble getting all breeding done in relatively short order.
A comment from southeast Pennsylvania’s Corey Mengel in my December 5 post shows how things may differ from one part of a state to another, and how patience and persistence pays off. The last days of the buck season were Corey’s best. Taking a buck that was chasing a doe with just 10 minutes remaining in hunting season shows that the rut is spread through a long period.
Readers had questions about my December 4 post, in which I wrote about another hunter apparently shooting a buck that had been responding to my calls. Jerry A.: the landowner had told me others were allowed to hunt there, so I felt there was no need to check on the hunter. And yes, 10jolsen, it has bugged me since that I did not look at the buck. It really bugs me. But I will get over it.
To ohiodeerhunter, who asked if there was an EHD outbreak in northeast Ohio. I do not know, but I do know there was a severe outbreak in part of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, which borders northeast Ohio. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Land Management Group Supervisor Jerry Bish, he figured about 85 percent of the deer in that particular wildlife management unit at Pymatuning died. The area reeked of rotting deer. He felt it would not take long for deer to recover, though, in numbers.
Now all that remains is to look at the last reports of rutting in the remainder of the region, then look back and try to make some sense of this unusual fall.