Overall Activity Status: Deer activity is a difficult thing to call now, because first there must be a general agreement about what constitutes levels of activity. What makes this most difficult is that deer activity is perceived differently in different parts of the region. Deer move to get food. If you happen to be afield at whatever time deer are feeding you might assume a high level of deer activity. If you are afield when most deer in the area are bedded, you might assume a low level of activity in the exact same places.
Judging from my own trail cameras, I would have to guess that deer activity is minimal. During the past few years when we have been doing this rut report, never before have I seen so few deer on my trail cams.
Marty Harrington at Marty’s Sports, Inc., in Bennington, Vermont, said that deer have been active. Broken Arrow Archery Shop, in central Ohio’s Licking County, reported seeing good deer activity mornings and evenings.
Fighting: Still no real fighting has been reported. Marty Harrington reported some light sparring in Vermont.
Rub Making: Rubs have been showing up since late last week, according to Marty Harrington. There have been scattered reports of hunters locating rubs. I have found no rubs in McKean, Warren, and Crawford Counties, Pennsylvania. Although I am in the woods most days, it might simply be that I have not been to the right places.
Scrape Making: Some hunters in the region have seen scrapes. I have seen just one brief visit to a scrape by a doe.
Note to commenter john carter: It is not unusual, but neither is it common, to see scrapes this early. Deer use scrapes to some degree year-round, based on my observations. If you were to go back a few years in this rut report you would see that on a couple of occasions I found active scrapes, including major scrapes, while setting out trail cams in late August. Deer can get a lot of information from scrapes, including who is in the area and whether a does is in estrus. But I expect that a buck can sense a doe in estrus from a great enough distance that it might not need to check scrapes.
Chasing: What little has been seen of bucks chasing does probably has been of the casual or playful type.
Daytime Movement: While changing memory cards this most recent Saturday on one of my clusters of trail cams, I saw deer moving from early afternoon to late afternoon. All were does and fawns.
Estrous Signs: No signs yet.
X Factor: Steelcityhunter in southwest Pennsylvania wrote that all bucks in his area have shed velvet, some nice bucks have been on trail cams, and there has been sparring. I would have thought that all of the bucks in my area of northwest Pennsylvania had shed velvet until I spotted a spike buck still in velvet, near the middle of the state, earlier this week. Some bucks are still in velvet in Vermont, according to Marty Harrington.
This Rut Reporter, who has been hunting long enough to qualify for a senior hunting license, is so anxious for the season to open on October 4 that I can hardly keep my feet on the ground. I will be looking for that 12-point shown on an earlier posting.