Deer are beginning to shift toward their fall patterns
High anticipation and a soft launch. That's the best way to detail the Northeast's current deer hunting status. Bowhunters in many states are anxiously awaiting this Saturday, as the calendar tips into the fourth quarter and the date begins with a 10. Regions in some states have seen earlier opening days, many with special restrictions. Those include New Jersey, where bowhunters have been in the woods since Sept. 10, with widespread stories of success from folks filling tags as part of their earn-a-buck quota. Most reports detailed varied property-to-property activity over bait piles and green food sources, and under the canopy of producing oaks. Mast crops appear to be about normal in most areas. The exceptions are areas again affected by gypsy moths, including several regions of New York and Pennsylvania.
Overall, the region has experienced a hot, sunny, dry summer, with drought looming in many counties. More recently, the skies reopened, and it seems like rain has occupied more of the forecast than clear days, providing valuable water to food plots and standing crops. In some cases, there has been too much water, as several of my food plots have experienced weed encroachment as a result of the abundant precipitation. There's a hint of color among the leaves, as they've transformed much of their dark green hue in favor of a more muted tint, with full fall color expected soon. As temperatures have dropped, whitetail activity has increased, with much of the region experiencing unseasonably cool conditions, which has had deer feeding feverishly through all hours the past several days. Corn and beans continue to dry, and deer seem to be transitioning from them in favor of lusher resources. From Maryland to Maine, many people carrying a bow or optics have reported considerable activity on green agricultural fields.
Though this is a rut report, activities related to breeding haven't hit the airwaves. Some folks have reported light sparring and tickling of the antlers among remaining bachelor groups. However, bucks and does are still showing mutual activity in shared spaces without any indications of interest in the opposite sex. Reports of rubs and scrapes have come in here and there, but significant amounts of rut-related sign still appear to be distant.
One New York hunter reported almost a dozen bucks and even more does on his food plot after a recent review of his camera cards. That should make for good odds after this weekend's opener.
Like I always say, similar to the changing leaves on the trees, we're just getting started, with lots to look forward to. We still have a lot of season (and rut) in the future, so for now, it's easy to enjoy the leisurely food-source-related pace of deer activity. But remember, there's no denying there's a storm brewing, and it's only a matter of a few weeks before the rut is in full force and upon us. The narrative will change, and it's no secret we're all highly anticipating the rut's pending arrival.
(Don't Miss: 30 Reasons You Won't Get Your Target Buck This Fall)