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Hunter’s Corner: Deer movement at its peak



For the Monitor
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

We’re now in peak rut which means that we are in a period where deer movement is at its maximum.

Bucks and does pay no heed to traffic and if you see deer crossings signs, pay attention. Just because a road or highway is built over a typical deer runway, the runway is still used. In a typical year, approximately 1,200 deer/vehicle collisions will occur.

Fish and Game recommends the following to reduce the chances of colliding with a deer: Be especially cautious when driving at dawn and dusk (when deer are most active); slow down when approaching deer crossing signs; and if you see one deer on the road, keep a sharp eye out for others.

“Don’t get distracted watching the doe disappear into the wood,” deer biologist Dan Bergeron said. “Stay alert – her fawns or a rutting buck may be following close behind.”

Opening day offered near perfect hunting conditions. Although it happened after we arrived at where we intended to hunt, a group of 10 does were spotted in a field. The field owner selected the biggest doe in the herd and dropped her with one shot. The doe checked in at a field dressed weight which is a pretty respectable weight for a doe.

We opted to hunt near the swamps rather than hunt the ridge lines. The deer sign was impressive and the buck sign showed there was an active buck or two in the neighborhood. We heard some shotgun blasts from the ridge line. In our first location we did not see any deer. Our next plan to have my hunting buddy Scott push the ridge line to me. I had to stand on the upper most ridge line. I dropped Scott off at the entry point. On the way up, the hill he bumped into another hunter who had three does cross the power line behind him and then had a fourth doe cross behind him with a coyote in close pursuit.

Fifteen minutes into his drive, Scott jumped a swamp buck who had been bedded down in some blown down trees. The buck bolted as if it was snake bit. Scott had no shot and tried to circle around the deer but to no avail. This buck had two distinct aspects that would have made it a classic trophy. First, it’s coat was a dark chocolate in color. Its impressive rack was a forward sloping basket rack. The buck was also a wide body buck.

No matter which patch of woods we hunted we experienced good deer sign and impressive buck sign. On the final hunt of the day I spotted movement out of the corner of my eye and it turned out to be a skipper – a smallish doe without a care in the world maneuvering through some tangle-foot under a power line. While I could have shot it, the thought of checking in a doe with a field dressed weight of 50 to 60 pounds was not an appealing one.

Day two was another near perfect one. The frost had turned the fallen leaves into potato chips – very crunchy and very noisy. I got to my ground stand and waited for the fun to start. Whereas there is no way I could sneak up on a deer, a deer would be giving me a warning if it tried to sneak by me. My stand is by the edge of a swamp and has several runways that intersect the hill side.

Making his way towards me, Scott jumped a buck out of some blow down. He barked at it to turn it towards me. It came through a stand of hemlock which took away the noise factor and stopped looking at me as if it was the cover photo on Outdoor Life. I couldn’t shoulder my shotgun fast enough and the deer exploded out of the hemlocks. The buck was running through samplings and offered what I call a “you wish” shots. Chances are you miss on this shot; worst case is you wound the deer and can’t find the deer. What a waste. It was a big deer and might have hit trophy status weight wise. Oh well, two days, two bucks.

We have been hunting in the right area at the right time. Surely our luck will change and it did.

The gusting winds made it impossible to hunt so we called it a day, picked up my boat from Green’s Marine and dropped it off for storage at the track and stopped by a mutual friend John to check on his deer. John’s 10-point buck tipped the scales at 194 pounds field dressed. The 10-point rack was unusual component with a split brow-tine. Plans are in the works to have a full mount made.

Steve White, a dedicated outdoorsman, angler and hunter, recently stepped down as chairman of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation. Steve led the Foundation’s board of directors for the past seven years. His tenure saw a major growth in guiding its infancy to a significant and respected organization within the conservation community.

His deep commitment to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation and to Fish and Game has resulted in funding over 80 grants to Fish and Game for under-funded or unfunded projects from fundraising as well as private and corporate donations. Steve’s passion has always been to preserve the state’s treasures for future generations, and teach young people the joys of the outdoors and the stewardship they need to embrace and preserve the many outdoor opportunities available in New Hampshire.

A quick check in with Brad Marshall results in an interesting comparison between 2016 and 2017. On Nov. 15, four deer were checked in. The deer were moving the day after the snow. The biggest buck entered into the deer pool was a 227-pound 12-point buck. The buck was shot with a T/C Encore 20 gauge single shot slug. In 2016, 70 deer were checked for the entire season. As of Nov. 15, 75 deer have been checked in and a significant reduction in deer being checked with ticks.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.)