Mike Stimmell and I took our normal loop through the Allegheny National Forest last night. Finally, the big bucks are moving in our area. After seeing several does as we were just getting into the loop, we saw a pair of bucks, a forkhorn and a 6-point, both small. Along the edge of a wilderness area, we saw a forkhorn, then another. Just after breaking out of the big woods into an area with scattered fields we started seeing big bucks. The first two were a pair of 8-points, one with an inside spread of about 16 inches. The other was a real bruiser, with an inside spread of at least 19 inches, with good mass and very long tines. The next big buck was about midway between those first two big bucks in antler size. At that point the filament in the spotlight broke, so we finished the loop using my 100-lumen headlamp. Even with such a small light we managed to see more does and an odd-shaped 5-point buck.

Seeing the first big bucks of fall gives the enthusiasm level a big boost.

A trail camera set pointing under an apple tree, which had more than 200 hits the previous time I checked it, had 648 hits this time. That is in just four days. In a circle around the tree, deer had tracked the ground to mud.

Among these photos are a couple of pretty good bucks, a 7-point and a 9-point, that appear first on September 22 at 1:36 a.m. The 9-point, which is shown here, is a very shootable buck for the Allegheny National Forest. It is not nearly as big as the 8-point we saw on our driving loop; nonetheless, anyone who passes on it in hopes of a better buck either has one specific buck in mind, or unrealistic expectations.

Also seen in the photos in addition to deer were bear, gray fox, porcupine, raccoon and gray squirrel. Surprisingly, a gray fox and a raccoon were in the same frame in one photo.

Connecticut hunter Rob Rogan reported that there has been plenty of daytime deer activity in his area. He has gotten a 4-point and a 6-point on a trail camera, but no pictures yet of the big bucks. However, some bucks have been seen fighting.

Rogan also hunts eastern New York, where daytime activity has been about the same, does and smaller bucks. Wish him good luck on his Western hunt.

From western Ohio, Ray Weasner, owner of Weasner’s Archery Shop, south of Toledo, said that rubs and scrapes are being seen in his area–but as of yet, no chasing, nor any fighting.