Oct. 13: Dear Deer:

Mast crops are excellent. Not everywhere of course, but acorns, beech nuts, wild grapes, black cherries or other mast can be found across much of this region.

Yours truly, Deer Too

So go most messages this rut reporter has intercepted lately. Food is foremost on the minds of deer, with just a sprinkling of rut-related activity. A couple days ago a New York hunter reported seeing a big buck half-heartedly chase a smaller buck away from a does that most certainly was not in heat. The smaller deer ran off at the mere sight of the bigger buck.


The buck shown here flashed past my trail camera immediately after a doe. Most likely it was just play. The buck does not appear to be old, likely a sibling of the doe.

Of course there are plenty of rubs, but no rub lines have been reported. This evening while setting a trail camera I found what probably is the start of a major scrape, a statement I make only because a major scrape has been right at that point every year for the past half-dozen years, ever since another nearby major scrape location was abandoned when overhanging limbs grew too high. No scrape lines yet, though.

Just before locating that scrape I saw a bachelor group of three bucks at the edge of a field. All three had main beams that were about as wide as the ears, but it was too dark to see much else.

The word from Steve Carpenteri in Maine is that at least one buck was still in velvet a few days ago. That has likely changed by now, but it demonstrates about how far Maine lags behind the southern parts of this area, from Ohio across Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic States. Except for the peak of the rut, that is, which should be about the same everywhere in our region. (Carpenteri is author of the book “The Pocket Deer Hunting Guide,” which in my opinion is as helpful as any whitetail hunting book every written, and much more so than the majority.)