Overall Activity Status: Bucks are relatively inactive now. Their antlers are soft, and they do not risk damaging them.
Fighting: No fighting.
Rub and Scrape Making: No rubs for a while yet. Some scrapes might be seen, but not the type of scrapes that will appear once rutting activity gets underway. I found one scrape this week while scouting farm country along the Ohio/Pennsylvania border.
Chasing: If there is any chasing now it is yearlings playing.
Daytime Movement: Bucks probably will not be seen during daylight hours. Does and fawns may be seen during the day quite often, since there are no hunters chasing them. The amount of daytime doe and fawn activity is largely governed by localized human activity.
Estrous Signs: No estrous signs yet.
X Factor: Do not expect to see bucks in the same places where you see does and fawns. Bucks might be in the company of other bucks, or they might be loners. This is not really structured. If you do see bucks, they are very beautiful because of their antlers in velvet which makes them appear to be larger, and which has an appearance that is pleasing to the eye. Mike Stimmell got this young 6-point on a trail camera behind his Allegheny Highlands home.
All bucks do not shed their velvet at the same time. When they do, it happens in a short time. Then, as if coming out of a dense fog, bucks start to appear along the roads and along the edges of fields.
In my home area in the Allegheny National Forest, I have been seeing quite a few does with triplets. This is probably due to the relatively mild winter. The same factor should mean bucks will sport larger antlers. We might, at least, think positively. These are a couple of things that scouting should be revealing at this stage.
Big woods, rolling farmland, woodlot, swamp, ridge and valley–this region features every type of whitetail terrain imaginable. 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