First Report of Estrous Does

Things are changing now at a more rapid pace. Through last week bucks had been seen fighting and sparring, but no reports of does in estrus came in. We knew it could happen any time. Now it has.

Ray Weasner, owner of Weasner's Archery Shop in Bloomville, Ohio, has heard reports of bucks chasing does. "I'm finding lots of scrapes," he added. "Bucks are hitting them at night." Similar reports from other areas are sure to be heard elsewhere soon. He also said that local hunters are starting to kill some good bucks. Weasner had been out bowhunting six mornings, but did not see his first deer until the morning of October 23, all does.

"For some reason the does are moving right now," Weasner said.

I expect the temperature is at least part of that reason. In my home area of northwest Pennsylvania, deer activity increased considerably when cooler temperatures arrived. Most of it has been does, and most either before noon or after 3:00 p.m. according to my trail cameras.

While on my most recent scouting hikes this week, the increase in buck rubs that began last week is continuing. What's missing are rub lines. I find scattered rubs, maybe a couple in close proximity, but no longer rub lines.

Robert Rogan said that in his Connecticut hunting area he has been seeing a young 8-point, 6-point, forkhorn and spike. The 8-point is shown above. But he is still waiting for the big boys to show up. He anticipates, based on last year's activity, that the big bucks will appear during the coming two weeks.

Considering all that has happened leading to this point, it is time to think about rut hunting tactics seriously. A sudden increase in buck activity, the sight of two, or three, bucks following the same doe, the appearance of the dominant bucks may happen at any moment. Be ready for it.

As always at this time, expect to see the big bucks, any bucks, close to the does. Be sure to carry your favorite grunt tube. If you see a deer off to the side of does, at the edge of your range of vision where you could not tell whether it wears antlers, give it a couple of grunts. If it is a buck, likely it will come toward you at a quick walking gate, stopping where it thinks a grunting buck should be.