The Velvet Rut
Things are looking up on the hunting grounds in PA. The jury is still out in New York, but at least one definite shooter has shown himself. Home ranges will shift as we near velvet peel, but for now its a lot of fun to locate bachelor bucks and capitalize on their consistent summer patterns. The dog days of summer are almost magical times for a deer hunter in that no other time of year allows you to observe mature deer in daylight with such regularity.
The shortening days cause an increase in testosterone which initiates the shedding of the velvet and also seems to trigger more reclusive behavior. Relocating that buck you watched all summer can be difficult or sometimes near impossible; he could be as close as the next property over or as far as a couple miles away. While it is probably prudent to withhold the finalization of your “hit-list” until after the bucks return to their Fall ranges, its still pretty awesome to see a handful of shooters utilizing the property you hunt during July and August. This can help provide tremendous motivation to finish the last of the summer projects, organize hunting equipment and refine your shooting. There’s certainly a chance that some of the bucks in the bachelor group you are watching are homebodies and large portions of their Summer and Fall ranges overlap. What is important to keep in mind, however, is that food sources at this time of year are rapidly changing and that only increases in September. Bean fields begin to dry up and in dairy-dense areas, corn may be harvested for silage and thus taken off before season which means much less waste grain left behind. In some areas farmers may even disc their harvested corn fields and leave them bare to take advantage of Spring snows (poor man’s fertilizer) which serve to leech nitrogen into the soil. These fields will be of little to no draw to the deer herd and so the summer patterns you were observing with regularity aren’t going to have much influence on Fall movements.
Stay open minded and adaptive to what the deer herd is doing in each season. The velvet rut is incredibly exciting and gives us all hope and fills our dreams for the next several months with that big dark antlered beast that was seemed careless and nonchalant all summer long. He will be a different beast in a few months and it will take all your off season prep to put the puzzle together and stick an arrow in him.
If you haven’t yet gotten a chance to do any summer glassing, here is some July velvet footage from NY and PA to hold you over in the meantime:
-Reuben Dourte, firstname.lastname@example.org