Mixed reports across the region as peak breeding starts winding down
The roller coaster ride of the 2021 whitetail rut continues, and the cost of admission is a valid hunting license. This past week brought some of the most divergent and contrarian feedback we've experienced so far. Reporters from the entire Northeast delivered the strongest and most emphatic dialog to date. Some made claims of the dreaded lockdown, while others noted still seeing deer feeding in fields as if nothing was going on. One thing that's become blaringly obvious is that this year's rut has been far from ordinary and anything but a fun ride for many of those taking to the woods.
The week brought another bout of weather that departed from seasonal averages, and not in a favorable way. Much of the Northeast again saw temps rise last Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday creating a less-than-desirable scenario for those on rutcation.
Maryland and Pennsylvania reported a wide variety of activity with some saying the temperatures were too hot and the activity was limited, while others witnessed unprecedented daylight activity and stellar deer hunting. One PA contact said, progress slowed down around the new moon. However, mature bucks have moved in front of cameras during daylight the last few days while another PA reporter simply said, Temps are too high! Bucks have been locked down with does, but I did see some breeding activity. Some chasing and scrape usage but with a high doe population the bucks don't have to seek very hard. New Jersey contacts reported hard seeking and chasing despite the warmer temps, with sightings and scouting camera evidence showing signs that the rut was game on and far from stretching into overtime.
Rubbing and scraping have slowed considerably, with many scrapes now becoming covered by the falling leaves. Doe sightings have been limited, but cruising and chasing from young bucks has been steady. Statements like they're just not revved up yet have been commonplace. But a conversation with a well-known deer biologist also brought to light a stark reality: Most of the does will be finished with breeding in the next few days. We just need to get out there to take advantage of this once-a-year event.
Any time is a good time to hunt but don't think because the calendar has drifted to late November that your chances of finding a rut-crazed buck have fallen top zero. Far from it! There will still be breeding activity on the part of bucks until their testosterone drops and they cast their antlers. Now is a great time to catch an unsuspecting prowler as he scours the woodlots for the last hot doe. It can still happen.
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