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Will Elliott: Are deer stuck in an early rut?

Is it an early rut or just a few hot does that arouse buck deer before the typical rut season arrives?

Every archer afield has a differing view of what they are seeing and surmising. Exceptionally warm weather has kept deer sluggish and staying close to food sources. With a strong market for corn, farmers have planted additional acres of an ethanol source and many a field still stands high and dried where deer can eat, sleep and be wary.

Neil Dougherty, in his weekly North Country Whitetails report, notes, “But it’s not all about the food.” Dougherty had earlier suggested that during the opening weeks of archery season the best setups would be openings close to food sources.

After more than two weeks of hunting pressure and simply more human movement around hunting areas, deer, especially the older, wiser bucks, have taken notice and might be more cautious when heading to food, water and bedding areas. The feeding could be done most or all of the time during hours after dark.

Roy Hyrckowian at Nick’s Sporting Shop on Kenmore Avenue usually gets out hunting just after the October 1 opener. “With this heat I hadn’t been out as much. I just started seeing scrapes this past weekend,” he said

Hyrckowian deals heavily in archery gear, but he also does taxidermy work. He has taken in six nicely antlered buck head, which he pegs as about par for the end of October.

“Normally the rut is usually in early November. I’ve shot 80 percent of my archery deer between November 10 and 12,” he said. But with the way things are picking up, he speculates the peak period might be Saturday to November 5 this year.

An avid Ohio archer, he sees the rut run there as being in about the same time frame as New York. Pennsylvania archers in the northwestern mountain areas of that state look for similar doe estrus peaks as Ohio and the Southern Tier of Western New York.

Brian Stedman at S&S Taxidermy in Springville has seen a normal showing of archery deer for mounting. “As for deer movement right now, it’s been very very sporadic,” Stedman said of sightings and shots archers report when they drop by the shop on Route 219.

“In general, Halloween is when it really starts going,” he said of the rut peak. Sizes might be uncertain. He recalled, “Last year was an awesome year for trophy bucks. We had a lot of mounts of deer three years and older. It might be only an average year for antler sizes this season.” But he has seen and heard of many deer on the move this year and he thinks there could be a few surprise trophy-size bucks taken during the bow and gun seasons this year.

Prognosticating deer experts set up a rut season peak and a post rut that has mature bucks chasing in-estrus does at and after November 1. Yet many a doe goes into estrus (heat) at odd times and places well before trick-or-treat time.

That has been the case around our digs and in some more hilly areas to the south. Not only have sightings been of come-hither doe behavior, but viewers also report thickened neck areas of the bucks in chase.

Another sad sign of rut movement typically is the increased number of deer carcasses along roadways, which has been on the rise around Western New York this past week.

Follow the charts or get out and see for yourself this Halloween week and weekend. Trophy and/or meat hunters with a bow have a healthy population of whitetails to hunt and harvest this deer season.

One good 10-pointer

Cory Marshall of Eden recently turned 17 and went to Sardinia with dad, William Marshall, on Oct. 19 to archery hunt for deer.

They headed out that Saturday morning and held in their tree stand all day. Finally two bucks appeared and the nicer one moved within 15 yard for a shot at 4 p.m.

Cory’s trophy-size buck went less than 50 yards for a clean kill in time to head home and show granddad David Mammoser in Hamburg.