rut reporters
Fresh rubs in New York. Dave Hurteau

The last few days of October usually mark the beginning of primetime in the Northeast, just as it does in much of country. Warm weather in the middle of the month seemed to portend a slow start to rutting behavior, but then a blast of colder air moved in just in time. Last Wednesday and Thursday, we got about 3 inches snow here in east-central New York. Before the storm, I’d been seeing very little buck sign on the properties I hunt. Afterward, I went on a midday speed-scouting run and found several travel corridors suddenly blown up with fresh rubs.

I hunted Friday evening and saw two small bucks sparring. This morning, from a different stand I watched about 10 deer linger in an alfalfa field after first light, until a pretty good 8-pointer moved in and broke up the party, posturing at the smaller bucks and pestering the does for a sniff. Everything in the way this buck carried himself said that he is more than ready to oblige the first doe that pops. On my walk out, I found a scrape that hadn’t been there on Friday.

All of which is to say that everything is right about on time: Halloween is here, and the hunting is about to get scary good. (Sorry. At least I spared you any “monster” references.) Although the high temps are supposed to touch 60 in the middle of this week, the overnight lows will continue to dip into the 30s. While there’s no reason not to hunt evenings if you can, the mornings should be especially good. Cooler a.m. temps combined with rising testosterone levels should keep bucks on their feet well into the morning, seeking does and making sign.

Up until now, I haven’t hunted anywhere near a buck bedding area this year. But I’m going to change that up this week. I think it’s time to get in well before first light, set up on the hottest sign near a known buck lair, and hope that a good one is a little late getting back to bed.