NorthCountry Whitetails Deer Report #5 10-29-12
The next 10 days will likely be some of your best hunting of the year. Last week we saw a marked change in buck behavior (on and off camera) and what we saw we liked. We are looking for some pretty good action after this storm passes provided all our deer are not blown into Ohio.
Our sit sightings are actually down a bit from last week but our buck count is up for sits and on camera. We also saw the beginning of the “big buck show” this week. We noted a good deal more movement as well. Many of the deer photographed were “on the move” which means they were either “getting out of the way” in the case of does or “getting in the way” in the case of a number of young bucks intent on being everywhere the girls were.
A few of the bucks we photographed were exhibiting testosterone driven behavior. Like so many teenagers in gym class they were strutting their stuff, bowing their backs, and raising their hackles, in an attempt to be the biggest baddest boy in class. The older aged bucks were glaring at the lesser bucks but mostly keeping track of the does. The intensity level of the bucks was definitely up this week. But most of our observations were still of feeding doe groups as were those received from the field. Scrapes activity is definitely up as is rub urinating and stained tarsal glands.
Our prize “shooter 10″ returned and gave us a nice look on camera. He was showing plenty of interest in does but he is still a night owl at least on our place. He’s been a tough one to pattern since we started seeing him in September. Unfortunately we found out why last week. Last week we photographed him all over our 500 acres; unfortunately so have the neighbors. Seems he’s a “ranger” and likes to travel. He’s been going for “walkabouts” (which explains his periodic disappearances from our cameras) and ranging out a couple of miles at a time. “Rangers” don’t last long in our neck of the woods and unless he changes his ways (which he probably won’t) and falls in love with our girls and the habitat they hang out in, he will probably be dead in a few weeks (and not by us). We just might intercept him on a ridge or catch him working some of our resident does. Neil won’t be spending all that much time on him; he’s “predator drone” kinda hunter who doesn’t like “carpet bombing” all that much.
We’ve received numerous reports of hunters getting shots and many more “almost” getting shots. Numerous “chases” have been reported but they still sound like testosterone driven chases of short duration and no actual breeding. Perhaps one “estrus chase” was reported but we expect that because according to most breeding models, somewhere around 10-12% of the does will be in estrus this week or next. If one or more does on your property comes in it will be “Katie bar the door” for a day or two. If not, it will still be business as usual.
Our “money markers” on Kindred Spirits is a marked uptick in older aged bucks showing up on film, a reversal in buck doe ratios (favoring bucks) and mature bucks out and about during shooting hours. That has yet to occur. While buck intensity is up, and behavior is getting more and more “rutty” “prime time” for us is still out there a bit. We like most of you in the NE are looking for something to really happen after this big storm passes and things settle down.
We went out on a tracking call with Radar on a nice buck arrowed by a friend. Everything added up to a shoulder wound and after 500 yards and the blood finally petered out and we called it out. Our friend had productive sits all week but most of the observations were of feeding deer. Craig passed on a few “chip shots” out of his ground blinds this week not wanting to deal with deer processing during the warm weather and wanting a full evening’s sit to scope things out. Neil was also not around to do the “heavy lifting”
So where are we, we are close enough to “prime time” to make it worth your while to be in the woods as much as possible. Unless you are certain your target bucks are out and about, you should still stay out of core areas and give the more mature deer some breathing room. The leaf raking can wait (or should have been done when we told you to), but we wouldn’t start calling in sick and taking our last 3 days of vacation for a week or so.
Guys are getting some good results with grunt call, but we haven’t heard too much about rattling. If you are “stormed in” spend your time tuning up the grunt call and going over your bow gear. A shot should be in your not too distant future.
Food is still a good bet as the does are still on plots and they are beginning to get some attention. Eventually they will be run off the plots but that is out there as well.
Not to rain on the parade but by now you should have determined your fawn recruitment index and know how many does you are going to take this season. The trick now is to get it done without screwing up that big buck that is following her. Ever have a doe come without a big buck behind her (somewhere at least)? Bottom line, sit down with your gang and decide how you will harvest your does and don’t leave it to the end of gun season.
Thanks for sending in all the reports. Some of you are reporting every sit (sometimes during the sit) which is like having a whole bunch of hunting buddies out there with us. Those smart phones sure come in handy. As things ramp up trying to differentiate between an “estrus driven” chase and “testosterone driven chase”; the “estrus” chase is generally much more intense, and has breeding written all over it. We’ve developed these ideas in our new book and would like you to try ‘em out. We also talk about “predator drone” and “carpet bombing” hunting strategies as well. Sharon is taking orders now.