Bucks getting antsy in Pennsylvania
On a recent October morning filled with sunshine and cool air, I snapped the above photo of a guarded button buck’s fixed stare in the direction to my right. Within moments I understood his concern as a small Y-buck came racing through the woods straight at the little male, making him quickly scatter in another direction.
It was only a moment of highly energetic action as both the antlered male and the little guy stopped and stood looking at each other. Just as quickly as it happened it was over. The four-pointer moved on; the knobbed one relaxed, and once again started nipping at some leaves scattered on the forest floor.
For me, it brought that appreciative smile that being in deer woods provides when witnessing the deer acting as deer do when they have no apprehension toward human presence. In this case, it was an even bigger smile I wore knowing that the chasing I observed meant only one thing — the pre-rut is beginning, and the absolute best time period to be up a tree with bow and arrow begins now, and runs through the next few weeks.
The signs of the approaching rut phase are everywhere. Scrapes under overhanging branches and limbs are numerous, the cleaned and hoof marked bare earth offering a sure sign that bucks are up and active, making their presence known to both the female and other males of their species.
Rub lines are visible as bucks look for ways to spend the excess of energy that is building within their bodies. And as a veteran of years upon years being in the forests of Pennsylvania during this distinctive and extraordinary period, I know it will not be long until bucks of all sizes may be seen moving everywhere, their noses to the ground seeking that unmistakable scent of a doe ready soon to be mated.
All of this is not to give any hints at how to best hunt in this timeframe, because if experience has taught me anything, it is to expect the unexpected. Deer, and the hunting of them, especially during the phases of their annual mission to spread genes and secure future populations, seems to vary, surprise and astonish with each year I’m in pursuit. Truthfully, that is the only real outcome that is continual from one year to the next
Perhaps, the best advice is found in these few words: get out there and see for yourself.