Lousy weather conditions, work, and my aversion to hunting on opening day delayed my first day of bowhunting until Tuesday afternoon. Since the stand where I am hunting for the 12-point buck pictured in an earlier report is about an hour drive from my home, the plan was to hunt Tuesday afternoon, spend the night in the woods, sleeping in my truck, then hunt Wednesday morning. But then on the drive to the stand, I was the first vehicle to come upon a bad accident, costing about an hour while waiting for the rescue squad. I climbed into my stand at about 5:00 p.m. Rain had been predicted for the afternoon, but when a shower that fell during the drive petered out, I hoped that was it for the rain. Wrong.
With about 90 minutes of daylight remaining, I watched two does feed through a maintained forest opening. They passed from view, but I did not know whether they were still in the opening until a deer snorted as a drizzle was falling. With darkness nearing, that drizzle became a steady, hard rain. Rather than leaving my bow hanger in the tree, and the climbing stand attached to the lower trunk, I took everything with me back to the truck. The truck was parked at the end of a muddy, unimproved forest road. I was concerned that even with 4-wheel drive I might not be able to get out, so the hunt ended earlier than planned.
Although it was evening, the does were feeding during daylight, which is in line with changes taking place. Does and fawns have been more common daytime sights over this past week since the weather turned cooler. Temperatures are seasonal, and more deer are moving during the day.
Bill Vaznis, editor of the e-magazine bearhuntersonline.com, said that bucks in the area of his western Finger Lakes, New York, home are leaving their bedding areas earlier in the evening, and returning later in the morning.
Bucks are all out of velvet, according to Vaznis. He recently found a good scrape behind his house, and rubs are becoming more numerous. A buck was seen chasing a doe, but estrus has not yet begun. He has been seeing some nice bucks. “They’re roaming to look for does,” he suggested.
Frank’s Gun and Tackle Shop in the southern Adirondacks reported that hunters are seeing lots of rubs and an increasing number of scrapes. No one has reported seeing sparring or fighting. Still, there is only a little daytime activity.
From the middle of New Hampshire, Ken Eldridge, owner of Martel’s Bait & Sport, said does are on the move, feeding on abundant acorns. No big bucks have been seen during daylight. Some have been caught on trail cameras at night. There has been no sparing or fighting observed, nor has anyone reported seeing rubs or scrapes. It’s been noted that deer density is very light in that area of New Hampshire, so rubs and scrapes can be elusive.
Ray Weasner at Weasner Archery Shop in northwest Ohio, captured a trail cam photo of a very nice buck under his tree stand at 10:13 a.m. Unfortunately he was not in that stand at the time. He is starting to find more boundary scrapes, and more young bucks roaming alone during mornings.
Tom Hiegel hunted northwest Pennsylvania last weekend when the cold weather moved through, seeing “lots of does moving…but no bucks.”
Some thoughts after reading our comments: Acorns are very abundant across most of our region. This can make finding deer difficult. Look for white oak acorns and beechnuts. Deer will pass by a mile of red oaks to get to a white oak tree or beech tree that has a good crop of nuts.
Congratulations to natureonthefly for that huge buck, and to your sister’s boyfriend also. That’s a great example of what a cold snap can accomplish. NH-HEADGEAR, I have a trail cam by a line of oaks that are dropping plenty of acorns. My trail cam proves that deer, and turkeys, are feeding heavily on the acorns. Yet I have not seen any deer droppings in the area. This is not unusual. “If you don’t gotta go, you don’t go” is the reason, I suppose.
Thanks for all of the great observations we have been seeing in the comments sections. I think we all are learning valuable hunting information.