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Hunter’s Corner: Rutting activity and the start of deer season



For the Monitor
Sunday, November 05, 2017

I still haven’t figured out how I came in possession of “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook:Tips, Tales and Tactics” by V. Paul Reynolds. Reynolds is a Maine hunting and angling icon with a storied career with the Bangor Daily News, The Sporting Journal and The Maine Outdoors just to name a few. This is a great read with wonderful remanences.

Maine’s former deer biologist Gerry Lavigne contributed some excellent technical data to Maine’s deer population and the relationship between lunar activity and the rut. In a 1980-89 study, they were able to pinpoint the peak of the rut at Nov. 15.

This and other studies have largely debunked lunar theories. That said, given a full moon, there will be more rutting activity if cloud cover cooperates.

Lunar advocates still maintain a strong following and have many respected supporters.

Reynolds latest book “Backpack” is available online. My autographed copy of “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” is not for sale.

I have always held New Hampshire’s peak rut is Nov. 15 rightly or wrongly. Rutting activity is increasing in October and there is a a new moon on Nov. 18. I fail to see how the moon will have an influence this year. Daylight Savings Time ended on Nov. 5 so the afternoon hunt will come into play once again.

The muzzle loading opened with a foggy note.

Deer have three defensive mechanisms: sight, smell and hearing. The rain before the opening as well as the fog took out the hearing aspect. The fog also takes away the scent. The final defense deer had was sight, and the fog eliminated this one as well.

As a result, unless you kicked a deer out of bed, they weren’t moving, period. What we noticed about the first place we hunted was the lack of acorns. Now the preferred acorn is the white oak and when those are gone reds come into play. So, what’s the difference? Whites are sweet and reds are sour. You don’t need to be an acorn expert. Just look at the oak leaves. White acorns leaves have rounded leaves. Red acorn leaves have sharp pointed leaves.

Our next stop was in Epsom. Talk about acorn heaven, you had to walk carefully to keep from falling over. I had a choke point where deer could filter from one safe area to another.

Robb pushed a loop ending up with my stand. He spotted heavy deer tracks and jumped what he thought was a deer. Other hunters had hunted the high end of this spot and saw no deer sign. Now this particular patch had everything going for it including food, water and shelter but no deer. In discussing the situation with a friend Dave, we concluded that it was either poachers or coyotes that were having the biggest influence on this patch of woods as there is no reason why this patch is not over run with deer.

Over 57,000 hunters are anticipating Wednesday for the opening of the regular firearms deer season. The deer herd is in great condition having survived another mild winter. The changing weather patterns have been having a positive impact on the deer herd as there are less below-zero days and lighter than normal snow accumulations.

New Hampshire’s deer season is scheduled to begin on the second Wednesday in November. It is always timed to include the rut. The rut is always triggered by the hours of light in the day. As the number minutes of light changes, a chemical reaction takes place in the bucks and eventually in does. The 2018 deer season is scheduled to open on Nov. 14 – this is just about peak rut.

The importance of the rut is that it generates deer movement. Bucks will leave bedding areas, head for feeding areas, will take on water at least once a day and search for does. Does are on a 28-day cycle and that cycle peaks around the 15th of November, give or takes a day or two. If they are not bred during this 24-hour estrus period, 28 days later they will have a second chance.

First time fawns have even been bred in January. So how do you tell the difference between a fawn and a mature doe? It is all in the snout. A fawn will have a short-rounded snout and a mature doe will have an elongated narrow snout.

The buck-doe ratio is nowhere where it should be. The numbers of does taken each year is determined by the number of doe days. New Hampshire is the only state that regulates the number of does taken by doe days. There are so many does to breed that trying to rattle in a dominant buck has been greatly reduced.

For those of us who have enjoyed using the services of Lemay & Sons Beef in Goffstown over the years you will have to use another service provider to butcher your deer. They had a fire several weeks ago and while the store portion of the business opened, no date has been set for the rest of the business re-opening.

Fish and Game publishes a listing of game meat butchers. Please note the Fish and Game does not license, regulate or rate the quality of meat processors, it is up to you to investigate a butcher thoroughly before hiring. To make the listing the butchers must process moose to be on the list. Many only process deer.

The preliminary results of the nine-day moose hunt are in and 25 bulls and 12 cow moose were taken resulting in a 68.5 percent success ratio. When you stop to consider the abnormally mild temperatures that was experienced this success rate than I anticipated.

Around the state moose hunters had an 80 percent success rate in the Connecticut Lakes Region; 71 percent in the North Region; 69% percent in the White Mountain Region; 100 percent in the Central Region; 0 percent in the Southeast Region. No permits were issued in the Southwest region.