Last year as it was getting late in the bowhunting season I got a message from a hunter who was trying to decide what day he would take off from work to spend in his treestand. Both he and I got lucky. I made a suggestion, he took that day off, and he killed a huge buck.
Really it was not a difficult decision. Last year the November full moon happened during the last two weeks of the Pennsylvania bowhunting season. It is called by Native Americans, specifically I think it was the Cherokee, the Hunters Moon.
Most bowhunters in the Warren area who take the sport even a little bit seriously know this. Also they know that when the full moon takes place during early November the bucks go nuts, or so it seems. More accurately, for some reason the Hunters Moon prompts an unusually high number of does to come into heat, and that is what drives the bucks nuts.
This year the November full moon does not happen until November 21, which might be too late to make it a real Hunters Moon.
I thought the October 23 full moon might trigger a good amount of rutting activity. From all I saw and heard that did not happen.
This past Monday while a friend and I were driving to a shooting range a buck crossed the road right in front of us. Luckily we were going very slowly, and I saw the buck approaching out of the corner of my eye. That was a buck that would make any deer hunter nervous, one of the best live bucks I have ever seen. I am certain it would score well up in the Pennsylvania whitetail records. It had at least 10 points, I think probably 12. Tines were long and the spread was broad. It has outstanding mass.
That evening while working on a project I saw eight deer in a field. At least two were bucks. These two immature bucks were locking antlers, but it was play, not fighting. True fights between bucks are terribly violent.
I saw another immature buck in a field before that.
For all the world it appeared like that buck was hot on the trail of a doe. I have seen it often enough to recognize that attitude. That is what should be happening now. I started hearing reports about big bucks trotting around with that glazed look in their eyes since early this month. Rather than happening all at once, or seemingly so, as it does when the full moon is in early November, this year the rut has gradually gotten underway. Some bowhunters were fortunate enough to catch a buck following a hot doe, but not many.
Still, I think there will be some noticeable increase in rutting activity around the November full moon. That will not do Pennsylvania hunters any good, though, since it falls between the archery season and the regular firearms season. This is one of the times when it would be nice to live in a state where there are no gaps in deer hunting seasons, like New York.
But have you noticed the jump in the costs of hunting licenses and fishing licenses for non-residents of New York?
I have been hunting and fishing in New York since the mid-1960s. But this year I am not sure of I want to spend the money. Certainly they are sending the message that they do not want non-residents. Good gravy, $70 for a fishing license, and $140 just to hunt deer with a firearm. Then it is another $140 if you want to bowhunt, and another $140 if you want to hunt with a muzzleloader.
That combination of increased costs for fishing licenses and hunting licenses is going to cost New York businesses many millions of dollars.
If you live in Warren County you can get a very long bowhunting season in Ohio, where some of the best bucks anywhere are taken every year. It is too far to hunt after work, but you can be in Ohio in less that two hours. If you want to look into it start by checking their web site for public hunting land.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife web site is www.dnr.state.oh.us.
The greatest quantity of it is in the southeast part of the state in Wayne National Forest.
One problem with hunting in Wayne National Forest is that land boundaries are not marked as well as they are here in the Allegheny National Forest, and the Wayne National Forest is even more fragmented than the Allegheny National Forest.
If you have time to go to Ohio and look for private land where you can hunt it is possible to get on private land. However, most private land where public hunting is allowed is even more crowded than public land.