Here in the post season I can reflect back to what a wonderful season I had this year. Not only did I get meat in the freezer. But I hunted hard and a lot. Got to see a lot of deer, including a huge albino doe. But the high point was helping a good friend drag out his deer as well.
In a period of three days I saw 17 deer in and around the area where we had treestands out. My buddy Ivan saw ten to twelve more deer beyond those. We cruised all over the backcountry and saw a lot of critters. Over the course of the season I figure I saw about 25 deer and “tracked up” another 10 to 12 more. All of these deer clearly distinct and different not repeat customers or confusions. So yes I must admit the deer herd in 2007 looked really strong and the deer were in great shape.
But how will it fair against record snows and the loss of traditional deeryards? 2008 could undo the gains of the last couple of seasons. I will have to admit that the coyote’s predation may be less of a factor than in past years. But that is due to the continued sport hunting and trapping. Hunters I know are looking harder to find fewer. That is definitely a good sign.
I will step back out onto the edge with my fellow hunters again and repeat what I have said in the past. There is no way we have a 2.5 to 1 buck to doe ratio in Aroostook County. On average we saw 5 to 6 does for every buck seen or tracked. Now that is a conservative estimate. The numbers could have been skewed to be even more does to bucks but not the other way around. Just sightings alone showed the ratio to be at least twice the stated ratio given by the state. These are not just my observations. Ask any hunter who logs more than four days in November, just Saturdays. They will tell you the same thing.
I can honestly say that I logged close to 175 hours from late September to the end of November. Hunting the archery season and the gun season as well. In less than 75 days I was able to maximize my hunting by spending every free moment in the woods. Not an easy thing to do when you work two full time jobs and try to fit writing into the equation. The latter always getting the short end, I’m afraid.
According to my log, friends, and my own observations of course. On November 5th when I shot my deer the bucks were in the chase phase and rubs and scrapes were abandoned. Not one scrape was refreshed after that time that we were monitoring. Now you may want to argue the point but the facts speak for themselves. These deer were all moving from 10 to 2 in midday just as the solunar tables said they would. Still being active at night under the full moons influence even after it left.
That means in the North Country our rut came early, peaked sooner and was a non-factor earlier than in the southern part of the state. Now I have read some garbage here and there on the hunting forums from misdirected individuals stating that deer were peaking the last part of November. Sorry folks, that was the post rut here in the county. It may be peak in another area but not in Aroostook. “Yes Virginia”, region does influence rut. More than we may have realized in the past. Here in Aroostook we are at the extreme Northern edge of the whitetails range. The deer up here are different. They are bigger bodied than those “German shepherd” sized southern deer. All stunted from over population. Weather and their changing environment also more easily influence them.
Here are a few ways to use that against them:
- Hunt high on breezy days and stay out of valleys/ swamps and such.
- Hunt the day before a storm, stay home the day of a storm, and hunt hard the day after.
- Prior to a storm hunt the food source hardest, the bedding areas least.
- Post storm deer are at the food sources.
- Hunt saddles!!!!
- Look for bedding areas near water barriers that limit human activity. The island in the middle of the swamp idea. The deer will always go there when pushed, or weather makes then hide.
- Hunt the back corners of cuts near access roads. The undulating ground will conceal the corners from view from the road and the deer will feed there. While being a short hop or two from cover.
- When hunting cuts, hunt downhill, so your scent rises back up behind you on the thermal air currents. (Hunt from south to north on normal weather, and alter your course to keep the wind on your left cheek.)
- Hunt the open cuts from a ladder sand or tripod. If the full moon is in effect, hunt the midday hardest. Deer will be up feeding again from 10 to 2.
I hope your season was as good as mine. If not, well I hope my observations can help you next year. The key is to try everything and stay adaptive. The one hard and fast rule of deer hunting is there are no hard and fast rules on deer hunting.