In Pockets of the Northeast, an Inconsistent Rut

Among the numerous contacts who generously provide me with input for my rut reports is Ray Weasner, whom I met on a deer hunt in West Virginia. Weasner is the owner of Weasner Archery Pro Shop, Bloomville, Ohio, and I am still using the bow and accessories he set up for me during that hunt.

Last evening we had a lengthy telephone conversation about--what else?--the whitetail rut. I was particularly interested in what he had to say since he brought up the subject of an unusual rut this fall.

"This is the weirdest rut I've ever seen," Weasner said. "Only one time did I see bucks chasing does. All of my big bucks have vanished."

This is a recurring theme this year, including my own experiences in my home area of northwest Pennsylvania.

Last Friday, Weasner watched a buck dogging a doe. The next morning he saw a small buck trailing a doe, and a bigger buck was following the small buck.

Monday was the opening day of the Ohio firearms deer season. Weasner saw one buck and several does.

Adding to the unusual nature of deer goings-on this fall, Weasner saw a fawn with spots two weeks ago. In a manner of possible explanation, he said, "We saw bucks chasing does in March last year."

Weasner uses a half-dozen trail cameras as aids for his scouting. He has been getting quite a few photos of big bucks. All of those big bucks showed themselves at night. The first sighting he had of a big buck during daylight hours was last week.

Much of this mirrors what I have been observing this year. This is not surprising since he is at about the same latitude as I am.

Another observation we have shared is that he has not been seeing any road-killed bucks.

Wandering a little out of our Northeast Region, Weasner regularly hunts Kentucky with a group of hunters. Every year until this year, every hunter in the group got a nice buck the first day. This year none of the group got one.

When I pressed him for his estimation of when the rut peaked in his area of northwest Ohio, he said it was November 15. "That's when all the does vanished, and all the little ones were running around by themselves," Weasner said.

Fawns from the most recent spring typically keep company with their mothers until the doe is ready to breed. When a doe comes into heat, her previous fawns are driven away.

Do not forget previous rut reports from recent weeks. What has been going on in northwest Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania may not be the same as in other places.