Traditionally at this time of year, hunters across the region are discussing how hot the rutting activity is. We share stories of sightings of bucks that “came out of the woodwork,” day-long deer activity, success from the stand and even the one that got away. Unfortunately, the only thing thus far in 2022 that’s been hot the first week in November … is the weather.
Indian summer seems to have tightened its grip across the region, and hunters everywhere are feeling the squeeze. Many have detailed a lack of movement and even a decrease in the amount of rut-related sign in most areas. Inventory of rubs and scrapes is at a fraction of annual counts, with deer sightings and scouting camera activity signaling a disappointing and lackluster rut.
“It’s the worst rut I’ve ever seen” one Pennsylvania reporter said. “I’m not even getting activity on my cameras at night. I think with these warm temps, they’re just lying low and doing a lot of their activity in small areas after dark and under cooler temperatures. It’s terrible. Terrible.
I can’t disagree, and those sentiments are being echoed across much of the Midwest, with similar conditions gripping that region, too.
Despite that, there have been some reports of buck harvests from New Jersey, Maryland and Maine, but at a diminished capacity compared to the traditional colorfully woven yarns of deer hunting success. A friend from New Jersey related how he and his son sat at a food source and had a good 10-point feed leisurely in without much care for love. The buck’s transgression cost him his life after my friend’s son settled his crossbow with careful aim and harvested the biggest deer of his hunting career. It’s not all bad news, but it sure feels like I’m watching HLN on replay lately.
Reports of deer are also coming in with extremely mixed reviews on the type of activity and where. Some folks are seeing seeking and chasing around thickets and in the timber, but many others have come back confused by deer activity that harkens closer to that of early season summer-like patterns than typical rut-time rituals. The many personalities of this year’s rut are breaking hunters’ hearts and ruining rut-cations.
It’s not all bad news. Cooler temps are in the forecast, which brings hope of things busting wide open and returning to period-appropriate behaviors. Still, as I always conclude, you must be in the field to experience what the field has to offer. As the old saying goes, “You can’t kill ’em from the couch.” Lately, it seems like your time might be better spent at home, hanging out in shorts and enjoying the AC with a cold one in hand, but it’s still time to press through, because you never know what might show up where and when — even if Mother Nature throws you a flaming-hot curveball during the rut’s most prime days.