Rutting behavior has been unusual this year, and more evidence of that comes from David Hartman, president of the New York State Whitetail Management Coalition. There are many scrapes and rubs in his southern Catskill region, but this year there is a new twist to it: Deer have been using pine and hemlock as licking limbs over scrapes.
“I’ve never seen them do that before,” Hartman said.
Bucks were chasing does during the first week of rifle season, which started November 17 in his area. But that has ceased. He attributes it to the normal behavior of deer being mostly nocturnal once firearms season opens.
Hartman is soon heading to the southern Adirondacks to hunt, and promises a report from that area.
Up in Vermont, Marty’s Sports in Bennington reports that bucks are chasing does. That should be going on throughout our Northeast Region now, to varying degrees.
Here in northwest Pennsylvania it is much like the Catskills: Few deer can be seen moving during daylight hours. I will guess that hunting pressure has a lot to do with it. More hunting pressure is more likely to put a stop to daytime movement. The exception, of course, occurs when hunters jump deer. In areas where there is more distance, or more rugged terrain, between roads, deer can retreat from nearly all hunting pressure.
The situation appears to be similar in the area of Jefferson, Maryland. Jefferson Archery reports that bucks are not running as much as they were earlier. Some younger does are coming into heat, which is still providing some rutting action.
Fawns can come into heat during their first year. Since timetables are very similar, this can produce what is sometimes called a second rut. Gestation period for whitetails is about 200 days. Since the largest number of fawns are conceived during the peak of the rut, a large portion of fawns will be born 200 days later. They reach maturity when they weigh 80 to 90 pounds, and can breed then. If we can assume that fawns tend to grow at about the same rate in any given area, we see why a second rut happens.
Even during the major rut peak, though, not all does come into heat at the same time. Nonetheless, we can anticipate with some confidence a second rut.
So take heart–we still may have some good rut action ahead.