Northeast Rut Reporter Mike Bleech has been hunting whitetails in his native Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast for more than four decades. A Vietnam veteran and full-time freelance outdoor writer, Bleech has had more than 5000 of his articles published. States covered: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA OH, MD, DE.
Overall Activity Status: Activity now is related to feeding.
Fighting: Most bucks still have velvet covering their soft antlers, which still might be growing, so fighting is out of the question. Bucks are still in bachelor groups, moving separately from does, fawns and yearlings. Some yearling bucks might still be hanging around their mothers or female siblings.
Rub Making: Not yet.
Chasing: Not yet.
Daytime Movement: Deer will sometimes be moving during the daytime. This will decline as more hunters start scouting. Deer react to human activity by doing most of their moving early or late in the day, and at night. In remote areas deer tend to move more during daytime. But the daytime movement associated with the rut, with lovesick bucks wandering far and wide at all hours of the day or night, is still a while off.
Estrous Signs: Not yet, with near certainty in the Northeast Region.
X Factor:** The next couple of weeks will see great changes taking place. Bucks will shed the velvet from their antlers. A few probably have already. This Allegheny National Forest whitetail is probably 2-1/2 years-old or 3-1/2 years-old, a mature buck that will be active in the rut. It appears that the velvet has already been shed. Note the neck. It is not as swollen as it probably will be in a few weeks. But if a doe were to come into heat, which is highly unlikely now, the buck could breed. So do we say the rut has begun?
Since it is all but impossible for does to come into heat at the first of September the rut has not begun. However, various state wildlife departments in this region state that the breeding season for deer starts either in October or September.