Changes in deer activity have been happening slowly this week, maybe partly due to the warm weather.
Most areas are reporting that all bucks have shed their velvet. But Ray Weasner, owner of Weasner Archery Shop in northwest Ohio, said some bucks in his area are still in velvet. He believes some are still growing because he has seen bulbs on the ends of antlers recently. In my own area of northwest Pennsylvania, it appears that nearly all bucks are out of velvet. Frank’s Gun and Tackle Shop, Gloversville, New York, in the southern Adirondack area, reports the same—all bucks appear to be out of velvet.
Recent comments indicate that deer activity has been mostly at night throughout much of our Northeast Region. The consensus seems to be that warm days are the reason.
Weasner pointed to a lower deer harvest from last year so far this season in northwest Ohio.
“The big boys have just vanished,” Weasner said.
The situation is similar in the southern Adirondack region. No one has reported any serious buck fights. Several hunters have seen bucks sparring. A few also have seen smaller bucks playfully chasing does.
Scrapes and rubs are being seen in most places. NE HEADGEAR commented that he saw a line of fresh scrapes in northern New Hampshire. This seems early for a scrape line; it must have been made by an anxious buck.
At this point, hunting tactics can focus on on either feeding activity or rut-related activity. It’s possible no does have come into heat yet. Still, if any bucks are looking for willing does they will be hanging around females.
Several areas have reported good acorn crops, notably the New England states. Acorns are spotty here in northwest Pennsylvania but good in other parts of the state. Abundant acorn crops can make hunting difficult because it tends to keep deer scattered. Forest hunters may do well to find good stands on oak ridges. Narrow areas that act as funnels should be good. Also watch for downed trees that funnel deer movements.
A grunt tube should work very well now. This is an excellent tool for attracting deer when they are moving over a broad area.
Everything might change this weekend with cooler days predicted for much of the region. Anticipate an increase in deer activity, perhaps including the bigger bucks, but do not look for much, if any, breeding activity for a couple weeks, anyway.