A few hours after writing up my conversation on fawn recruitment and predation with Andy LaBonte, a wildlife biologist for the state of Connecticut, I checked a trail camera on my new place in New York. For the first time, I recorded some up-close and personal coyote footage. As you can see in the video, these three yotes are trying to run a pincer move on the fawn that walked by a few minutes before.
A little context: The western edge of the property has a mowed path that runs about half of the rectangular 38 acres. About 60 yards east of the path is a driveway that runs parallel to the path. Several deer trails cut across the mowed path and into the driveway from a neighboring brush lot on the west. Viewed from above, the path and driveway look like rails of a ladder with half a dozen deer trails cutting across like rungs. I hung the Primos camera on 15-second video mode shooting down the path on Oct. 1, opening day. That evening I captured several does and fawns. I cut wood not far from the camera that Friday and Saturday and got no photos, and then on Sunday it was a coyote party.
2:39 a.m. – Fawn ambles down the mowed path.
2:45 a.m. – First coyote shows up checking the wind, then two more arrive from where the fawn went. They split up running into the brush lot and down the mowed path.
3:09 a.m. – Coyote trots passed the camera.
3:15 a.m. – Coyote on alert, then heads down path.
3:19 a.m. – Coyote is back scent checking the ground in front of the camera.
3:21 a.m. – Three coyotes trot down the path.
3:25 a.m. – Two coyotes running down the path, as another one runs up it.
7:47 a.m. – Big doe and a fawn walk by, calm and unmolested.
My guess is that the camera captured an unsuccessful coyote hunt. That ladder of path, driveway and well-worn trails makes for a wicked deer run as the yotes can try to push youngsters in a circle, and into their waiting buddies. Maybe I’m giving coyotes too much credit, but that’s my guess. Thankfully, they were unsuccessful this time. No kills found anywhere.
Overall Activity Status: For weeks we’ve heard about banner acorns in some areas, and zero acorns in others. Ohio confirmed overall low numbers this week with their annual mast crop report. In a survey of 38 wildlife areas, state officials found that “29.3 percent of white oaks and 41.3 percent of red oaks bore fruit this year,” which represents a 23.1 percent decrease for whites and 25.5 percent decrease for reds. “This year’s comparatively poor mast crop should translate to improved deer hunter success rates, particularly among archers,” the report concluded. If there is a quality patch of acorns in your area, you can bet deer are on it. Yesterday at a sportsman’s club meeting in Western, New York several hunters—some of whom run more than 20 trail cameras—said most of their good bucks have gone missing. The bachelor groups that have made regular appearances in open ag fields have split up, dispersing into the timber. Corn has also come down quickly in the last week or so, further dispersing bucks, though most silage corn still seems to be standing, and probably will until this current spell of wet weather pushes through. One of the guys I spoke with was bummed out that all his good bucks had moved off, though he knew to expect it, while another was pumped that his farm that holds a lot of food and does—but has yet to produce a single good buck picture—is about to heat up.
Fighting: Yearlings and 2.5-year-old bucks have been play fighting for a few weeks now, but no reports of mature buck battles to date.
Rub Making: I’ve heard that clear rub lines are developing across the region as bachelor groups split up and bucks stake out their own territory, but I’ve seen few and far between firsthand.
Scraping: Scrapes are showing up with much more frequency, especially in the oaks and staging areas around green fields and cut corn.
Chasing: Young bucks can be seen irritating does across the northeast, but no reports of the violent sort of chasing expected to come in a few weeks.
Estrous Signs: Nothing to report.
X-Factor: Beans are a thing of the past, but fresh cut corn and green fields are still producing daylight buck sightings. If there are acorns, you can bet that’s the big draw in town. Apples seem to be booming everywhere, but likely won’t be a game changer until the temperature drops some. With the wet week we’ve had in much of the region, and the deer-friendly 10-day forecast on the horizon, now could be a good window to drop a mid-season buck. “October lull” be damned.