Northeast Rut Reporter Mike Bleech has been hunting whitetails in his native Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast for more than four decades. A Vietnam veteran and full-time freelance outdoor writer, Bleech has had more than 5000 of his articles published. States covered: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA OH, MD, DE.
Overall Activity Status Nov. 16:** As we might expect, the rut is in full swing, coming in neither with a whimper nor a bang, but on schedule. Some hunters wonder how logical is the Northeast Region, considering it stretched from southern Ohio northward to the New Brunswick and Quebec borders, and from end to end of the Eastern Time Zone. It is not logical, but neither are white-tailed deer. In truth, there is not a lot of difference in seasonal activities in the region. More significant are weather differences. Here are the basic facts: If a doe is in heat the bucks go nuts. All other things being equal and no does in heat, deer move quite a bit when weather is unseasonably cool, move much less when it is unseasonably warm.
This morning my bait tank had a skim of ice. While driving to a shooting range in fog with my trucker buddy, Dave Baker, a monstrous buck, one of the best I have ever seen, crossed the road on front of us. It appeared to be on the trail of a hot doe.
Fighting:** In the evening while checking trail cams I saw three younger bucks. Two were playfully locking antlers while six does watched.
Scrapes:** Watch for deer making and checking scrapes, however scrape lines are not so good a place to set up a stand as it might seem.
Chasing: A bunch of chasing now. However, do not expect to see it happening every time you go afield. It is all about a doe being in heat and bucks lusting for her. She may breed with several bucks. At any given time several bucks may be chasing her, with the dominant buck in the bunch getting first breeding rights, unless an inferior buck diverts his attention long enough for another buck to breed the doe. Deer do not know anything about love, right or wrong, or any other human value you might be tempted to apply.
Daytime Movement: This is the time for daytime movement. I expect that the most daytime activity from this point forward will be from November 18 through November 24, but it will not end on any specific day. Does which were born this past spring may come into heat later than more mature does.
Estrous Signs: Does coming into heat will act squirrelly, for lack of a better description. For a short while before they are in heat the bucks will sense that her time is near and she may be seen brushing them off.
X Factor: This is just a great time to be hunting deer, the time you have been waiting for all year. Do not worry about the good days gone by that you may have missed–take full advantage of what is happening now.