Just this morning, I saw a Tweet from hunter asking if the rut was over in the Southern Zone. Clearly, he's been struggling during this prolonged period of unseasonably warm weather and its impact on rut activity.
To some degree, I share his frustration. There have been days during this warm spell when I have sat for hours and have seen nothing. Then I receive a text message with a trophy harvested by a friend of a friend's neighbor and I start thinking that I may have missed the precious few days I look forward to all year. However, after I check my emotions and think logically about what I have seen with my own eyes, I know I haven't missed anything.
Over the last couple days, I have seen four bucks, each cruising for does. All but one were on the young side and the one big guy was just too far away for me to do anything about it. They each walked with that slow, plodding, head-down kind of daylight stroll. But add a 20 degree temperature drop along with a south wind switching northerly and I can’t help but optimistic that I’m going to see the mature bucks on their feet this weekend.
Predictions and definitions of "peak rut" aside, I'm confident that we still have plenty of time before bucks and does "lock down" and get hard to find here in NYS. In other words, this is no time to despair. Instead, give your hunting clothes a fresh wash tonight and patiently get to your favorite stand early Saturday morning, possibly dragging scent as you go. Then stay there until you fill a tag. You never know when a mature buck decides to walk by on his way to see his latest girl.