You would think with any remaining green foliage now rapidly giving way to spectacular fall colors in our local woodlots, local whitetails would high-tail it for the nearest backyard shrubbery in an attempt to bulk up for the colder months ahead.
That may be what some does are doing right now, but most bucks have other thoughts in mind. As evidenced by a sharp increase in the number of antlered whitetail carcasses found roadside because of collisions with automobiles, as well as a serious upswing in the number of bucks hauled into deer butcher and taxidermist shops, it is apparent the whitetail "rut" is in full swing. That means big-racked trophies are more unpredictable than ever -- yet more prone to make a fatal mistake.
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The rut is the prime period of breeding for whitetails and it is the bucks that are single-minded in pursuit. Whereas the bucks have been trailing does regularly for two or three weeks now, hanging back just a bit from the small groupings that often include adult does, yearlings and fawns, they are now turning up the pressure.
Focused on finding a doe that is ready to be bred, even the biggest bucks pretty much lose their minds. They forget to eat, jump across roads to quickly move from one wood lot to another, and forsake the security of heavy briar, laurel and privet patches to trot along dirt paths and fire access roads in an attempt to cover as much ground as possible.
One way to increase your odds of encountering bucks during the rut is to set up along primary doe trails. If you have an area where you know several does pass by each day, there is a good chance a buck will be following them during the next week or two.
You might also consider staying in your treestand longer in the morning or getting in earlier for an afternoon hunt as a surprising number of record book bucks have actually fallen during the midday period.
"Using 'doe in heat' scent should also be considered," said Jared Schneider, proprietor of Smith Point Archery in Patchogue. "Set up along a doe trail, slightly outside a bedding area or beside some thick brush and put out a few drops. Any self-respecting buck walking by on your downwind side is likely to investigate."
Calm seas aid catches
With calm winds over the past week, blackfish anglers have scored well in all quadrants of Long Island with the most impressive scores coming from Orient Point, Montauk, the artificial reefs off Shinnecock, Fire Island and Jones inlets, plus 30- to 40-foot depths off rocky points near Port Jefferson, Northport, Glen Cove and Hempstead Harbor.
The best bassing has come from inside Great South Bay and South Oyster Bay. Both bodies of water are still loaded with peanut bunker and that, together with the exceptionally warm weather, has kept the predators happy.