Trailcam Photos: It's Rut Time!

Neil and Craig Dougherty of North Country Whitetails compiled this report from field observations and strategically placed trail camera photos taken on their two properties (700 acres) in upstate New York. They have been documenting hunting season deer behavior for over 20 years and update their field reports weekly. Earlier reports can be found at northcountrywhitetails.com By the end of last weekend things had really started to happen. Our food plots were quiet all week- fawns came early and worked the plots but few does showed up. When they did, they were in and out in a jiffy. Young bucks were in and out of the plots but not as disruptive as earlier weeks. They mostly walked through resigned to their fate as second-class citizens. Early in the week our cameras showed mature does using the plots mostly after dark along with bucks of all ages.Outdoor Life Online Editor
So far this week, we've observed 27 does and fawns and 16 bucks from stands in 21 hours of sitting. Total deer sightings per hour continue to decrease with buck sightings per hour increasing. The trend of fewer deer but more bucks started opening weekend (October 15) and continues through weekend No 4.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Outdoor Life Online Editor
We've also observed many fawns this week without does in attendance. Lone does were observed in wooded areas and out-of-the-way spots they normally don't frequent. It would appear that the doe family units have been disrupted by the constant harassment by bucks the past few weeks.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Early in the week it appeared that the young buck harassment had taken its toll on the food plots with fewer and fewer deer using plots. That, coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures had some of the guys waving the white flag of surrender.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Right now, food is becoming less and less important in the hunting scenario as the breeding season progresses. Mature bucks and does appear to be grabbing a mouthful here and a mouthful there as conditions permit. More and more feeding is occurring in wooded areas and areas of dense cover.Outdoor Life Online Editor
But, the cameras don't lie and as the week progressed they began to tell a different tale. We were beginning to see more and more mature buck (2 1/2-year olds) activity, especially after dark. They were clearly on the march and more interested in walking than feeding.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Almost all of the action was away from the food plots as the does were using the woods and heavy cover to stay ahead of the bucks. We're now seeing some good chases.Outdoor Life Online Editor
We've photographed three more unique bucks this week bringing the total to 33. More to the point, most of the bucks photographed this week were 2 1/2-plus. We've also started seeing some 3 to 4-year-olds from stand locations.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Bottom line, its game time for the rut. The face paint is coming out and we'll be hot after 'em. The hunting plan is to stay off of food plots and hunt travel and transition areas. We will move into our core killing areas in hopes of catching a mature buck with his guard down. If we have a good one, this is probably the week we will see him. We¿ll hunt most of the day and expect to see a good buck any time we are in the woods. We will still try to hunt low impact but this week the press is on. We're looking for a good week here till Saturday's gun opener then all bets will be off for a while.Outdoor Life Online Editor

Take the day, call in sick, play hooky from school-- the rut is peaking right now!