How interesting and mysterious are the ways of the rut. The differences between the 2012 rut and the 2013 rut make me wonder if there is ever an average, or typical year. Neither rut was what we might term typical, and the two years were very much unalike.
This year, one characteristic that stood out when looking at our Northeast Region as a whole, was the low numbers of rubs and scrapes. This was not the case everywhere, but it did seem to be the case in most places, according to my contacts. Some visitors here also commented on the low number of rubs and scrapes.
A majority of contacts also said the primary rut peak was not as intense as usual. A few of them feel the low intensity of the primary rut peak may have been due to changing weather patterns brought about by global warming. Maybe so.
But to get a good notion of what “average” really means, watch the weather reports. Very seldom is the daily high temperature or daily low temperature right on the average for that date. For purposes of predicting things including the peak of the rut, average is only a date around which most peaks occur. If the average date for the primary rut peak is, say, November 14, (which is the case in my home state, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission) and you want to plan a hunt so you are in the woods at the peak of the rut, plan the hunt for a few days before and after that date.
There are other things that factor into deer activity. Deer seem to be active during daylight hours quite often around a full moon. Cold snaps often trigger more intense deer activity. Unseasonably warm temperatures tend to coincide with very little deer activity, especially during daylight hours.
Since it appears that most parts of the Northeast Region are either in or nearing the second rut peak, this should be a good time for hunting. Temperatures lower than during the first peak are also in our favor. But hunting pressure is not, because deer usually react by moving mostly at night. They also react to hunting pressure by retreating into areas where there are relatively few hunters.
Some of the things you might want to consider while hunting now, in addition to using estrous scents and calls, are getting into thick cover, hunting farther from roads and looking for the places where deer are feeding. Winter feeding places are often different from the places they feed during early fall.
We had a great number of visitors participating by contributing information. Thank you, and thanks on behalf of everyone who learned from it. Participating in these rut reports has been one of the greatest learning experiences in all my years of hunting. I wish I had so much information 50 years ago.
Good hunting to all. And just because deer hunting season ends does not mean it is time to quit hunting for the year. I will be hunting coyotes all winter. It’s good opportunity to keep up with what deer are doing.