Rut Tracker: Trail Camera Photos of Recent Rut Activity

Editor's Note: Craig and Neil Dougherty take hundereds of thousands of trail camera photos on their properties in upstate New York each year. All fall they will be submitting their most recent photos, as well as photos from their contacts across the country, to Outdoor Life to help predict deer activity. The cameras documented a major return of deer to food sources last week. At this time most of the does have been bred. Without buck pressure doe groups like this one have reformed and are packing on the pounds as the temperatures drop. Food sources like this clover field still offer enough nutrition to help deer build fat reserves for the upcoming winter.
Even though its late in the breeding season bucks can fire up and get "rutty" in an instant. This three year old 8 point was tending a doe for a 48 hour window. The buck and doe showed up at all hours of the day in the food plot despite the heavy hunting pressure of rifle season. This time of year a good buck can be caught up in a group of does and show up in a field. Hunt where the deer are.
This shooter buck was photographed for the first time this past week. Now that the rifle season is upon us old deer seek refuge in sanctuary areas. This photo was taken along side of a 15 acre sanctuary self imposed sanctuary. No human has entered this thicket in the past 10 year. With hunting pressure in the wood this old boy will hunker down to wait out the season. Hunting close to these safe haven areas is a good strategy. You never know when a doe might drag him out.
With colder temperature upon us deer are starting to change their feeding patterns. This group of deer took advantage of the midday sun to grab a few bites of clover. Deer need to feed every four to six hours. Combine the need to feed with cold night temperatures and deer often opt to feed during the middle of the day.
Just about every hunter loves to hunt in snow. We have observed a dramatic drop in deer movement following the first snow covering of the season. Once the newness of the snow wears off deer return to their normal movement patterns and its business as usual again.
Grain fields like this rye field have been drawing a lot of deer over the past week. Rye grain is one of the most cold tolerant grains. It remains green despite the fact the temperatures are dropping below freezing. Hunting over productive food sources is the key to having a good late hunting season.