Concentrate Your Hunts On Feeding Areas

Overall Activity Status: The first signs of rutting activity started with the bucks shedding their velvet.

Fighting: There have been no reports of fighting yet.

Rub Making: Bucks started rubbing just after they shed their velvet. Mike Stimmell saw a fresh rub behind his house, on the Allegheny National Forest in northwest Pennsylvania, late last week.****

Scrape Making: Before hearing any reports of scrape activity, I got photos of a buck working over a large scrape in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. This is part of a habitat type that extends into eastern Ohio.

Our friend Rob Rogan, in Connecticut, said that the only buck he has been getting on camera was in the process of shedding in the most recent photo. This is a 7-point buck in Dutchess County, New York.

A friend had a large deer enclosure several years ago, which was a tremendous educational opportunity. The friend who owned it told me that it usually takes a day, or less, for a buck to shed its velvet. Also, rubbing probably has little, or nothing, to do with it.

Near the western tip of Maryland, Westley Marks, owner of Marks Sporting Goods in Cumberland, said that his information is a few days old, but as of then all bucks were still in velvet. This difference from the central and northern parts of our region to the southern part is the norm.

Chasing: No reports yet of deer chasing.

Daytime Movement: Generally temperatures have been unseasonably high for the past several days. This is about certain to keep daytime deer movements minimal. But as this is written, cooler temperatures are not far ahead, and deer will begin moving much more.

Estrous Signs: It is probably too early for does to show signs of estrous.

X Factor: We are only getting into the very first sign of the rut, bucks shedding velvet, which means they are capable of breeding. Does generally do not get ready to breed for a few weeks. While bucks are looking for love for a few months, does just come into heat for a relatively short period each month until they are bred. Now most deer movements center on feed. Deer seasons in the region are beginning to open. Hold off on those estrous scents for a while and concentrate on when and where deer are feeding.