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By Mark Kenyon Is it happening today? How about tomorrow? Have you seen any chasing? How about daylight activity, got anything? How about you? And you? You?! Any grunting? You?! Been seeing does in the field? Anything? Any rutting? Any rutting? ANY RUTTING?! Can anyone else out there relate? These…
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Overall Activity Status: Deer exhibited a small but distinct change in behavior over the past few days. On one particular trail camera, two bucks, including the heavy 8-point shown here (my guess is that it is a 2-1/2 year-old), showed during daylight hours. Does also have been more active during daylight hours. This probably has not been related to a full moon.
Robert Rogan has finally gotten photos of a big buck in Connecticut. It made an appearance at 3:30 a.m.
Northeastsportsman commented from northern Vermont after my previous rut report that he has seen an increase in deer movement.
Fighting: Bucks are still fighting, while in many places dominance has been determined about as well as it is going to be. Dominance does not necessarily determine which bucks breed with which does. Does generally breed with as many bucks as possible while in heat. On a few occasions I have watched an inferior buck breed with a doe while a superior buck just stood by ignoring it.
Rogan said he has had younger bucks “bashing their horns together” at his Connecticut and Westchester County, New York, hunting areas. But no big buck fights have been seen.
From eastern Massachusetts, brett corliss commented that he watched a couple of 5-points fighting briefly.
Rub Making: Why bucks would choose this particular time to increase rubbing activity is a mystery to me. In some parts of our region, at least, including my home and surrounding area, rubbing got off to a slow start this fall, but it has picked up recently.
Scrape Making: Bucks appear to be making more scrapes now, over the past few days, than earlier. Or it might just be that leaves are not falling as heavily, so scrapes are more visible.
Chasing: Readers are reporting bucks chasing hot does. In northcentral Pennsylvania, themadflyfisher reports seeing a nice 6-point chasing a doe. Northeastsportsman saw a nice 4-point chasing a doe in northern Vermont.
Daytime Movement: Daytime activity increased starting October 21, according to my trail cameras. To this point anyway, the 8-point shown above, is the nicest, or most desirable, buck, by my standards, that I have seen in this area this fall. Last fall I saw a few that were bigger. The symmetry of this buck adds to its appeal.
Estrous Signs: One of the does caught on the same trail camera looked suspiciously like it might have been in heat, by the way it held its tail straight back.
X Factor: Deer are more apt to be moving during daylight hours than they have been up to this point. If you have been doing little hunting while waiting for the rut, quit waiting, although most of the bowhunters I know have no concept of waiting to go bowhunting once hunting season opens.
Scent lures might be helpful now, even doe-in-heat scents. Grunting will draw in a good percentage of the bucks that hear it. Bucks are expending more effort being near does now.
My references to reader comments to the Rut Reports shows how much readers contribute to our collection of information. I hope you are reading those comments. I do, and I appreciate them.
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Overall Activity Status: All of my contacts are whining about little activity this month. Most blame it on warm temperatures (which has deer moving in dark; see the photo here of an Oklahoma buck a friend sent recently) or abundant native browse (because of late summer rains), meaning not as many deer are going to corn feeders by their bow stands. I’m optimistic that the first week of November will be better, especially since colder temperatures are expected and there is no full moon to complain about. With freezing temperatures coming soon, native browse will die back and you can bet that deer will get interested in free corn again.
Fighting: I’ve seen several mix-ups between younger bucks, sparring and a little pushing and shoving. When the calendar rolls over to November, expect the older bucks to start mixing it up as well. This pre-rut time frame is a good time to employ calling, such as rattling and grunting. Both calls stay in my blind or stand within easy reach at all times.
Rub Making: Sign is abundant in high traffic areas, like ag field edges, or around corn feeders and water tanks.
Scrape Making: still no reports of fresh scrapes, although it is that time of year and they should be out there. I’m hesitant to go crashing along my favorite creek channel just to say I’ve seen one, but I would bet they are there. I prefer to hunt from the outside in, not going into those prime areas unless necessary, maybe during peak rut or later in the season.
Chasing: Young bucks sniffing and bothering does, but no participation in the dance from the big boys.
Daytime Movement: This is going to sound like a broken record, but the window of opportunity is still small to shoot a mature buck. The first half hour of daylight in the morning and the last half hour after sunrise are best. Most reports tell the same tale I’ve heard for a month: does and small bucks visible in daylight, older bucks on trail cameras after shooting hours with occasional random appearances in shooting hours. Texas’ general season opens on November 2. Expect action very early or very late in the day.
Estrous Sign: None yet.
X Factor: When hunting a small property, and sometimes a big property, what the neighbors are doing across the fence can ruin your hunt. Take this example. A friend hunted the Texas youth deer season this past weekend with his son on his 300-acre lease. The week before, he had seen good deer activity and a couple of good bucks on his cameras.
He walked to his stand with his son and saw a pickup parked on the boundary fence 400 yards away. The truck never moved, but who knows what the people were doing just across the fence. The evening was slow; they saw two spike bucks.
The following evening, this time the same fenceline had a pickup driving up and down it at prime time. My friend heard 15 shots, and he and his son did not see a deer. Youth season is held on a weekend, so my friend could not hunt at a different time, but the lesson is that any time you hunt a small acreage property with other hunters nearby, try to hunt it during the week. That’s your best chance at hunting undisturbed deer, when things are quiet, as they should be in middle-of-nowhere deer country.
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Jim Bianchi, a Deer & Deer Hunting reader from Rochester, N.Y., wrote in to ask a few hunting-related questions after reading Steve Bartylla’s story about scent control in the October issue of D&DH.
They were good questions, so we thought we’d pass along Bartylla’s answers. Getting the straight dope right from the source always is the best way. Maybe you can incorporate some of Bartylla’s tips into your hunting strategies.
1) Once you get to the stand, what is done with the “boot pads laced with non-estrous urine” (and what is done with the Elimitrex)? I assume if you carry them up to the tree or leave them on your boots, your Scent Lok suit will be absorbing those odors and wasting your suit as it absorbs the urine odors? Also, can you give me example of the brand of boot pads and which brand of non-estrous or immature buck urine is used? I’m a detail freak like you and want to mimic your process exactly.
Answer: I hang the boot pads on a branch to seve as cover scent.
2) You mention wiping down your equipment with towels soaked in hydrogen peroxide. Do you literally take a clean towel and just soak it with hydrogen peroxide, ring it out a little, wipe the equipment? Or is the hydrogen peroxide towel been dried fully (I kind of doubt that)? I’m curious why you use hydrogen peroxide and not use the hunting-specific field wipes to wipe down your equipment? Are those field wipes not as effective of cleaners?
Answer: I use a paper towel and just get it good and damp. Hydrogen peroxide kills germs and bacteria, which are the causes of most odors. I also use wipes, but hydrogen peroxide is cheap, easy and effective.
3) I was very surprised to hear you use garbage bags, because of the extra effort needed to get them scent-free. Why not just use the scent bags on the market or even the large freezer type zip bags? Seems like garbage bags would be very hard to dry because of their thin-ness, which can trap moisture. At least with clear freezer type bags the walls are thicker and easier to dry moisture after you wash them. Just curious on the garbage bag approach.
Answer: I actually use ScenTotes and scent bags, but garbage bags are as effective and I used them for many, many years. When given a choice to write about a product that costs more $ and a cheap alternative, I tend to write about the cheap alternative.