"Rutting activity begins in October and increases in intensity as hormone levels rise in the deer," he explained. "Rutting intensity increases fairly quickly and peaks around the second week of November, typically Nov. 10-15. That's when hormone levels are at their highest and breeding activity is at its peak here in West Virginia."
Foster said hunters already are seeing signs that the rut is in its early stages.
"We've been getting reports from hunters seeing scrapes made by bucks," he said. "That's a definite sign the early rut is starting."
Day length dictates when the rut begins, but Foster said weather sometimes affects its intensity.
"Nice crisp, cold nights where the temperature drops below freezing will often help increase buck activity," he said. "When you have weather with 70-degree days and mild nights, bucks are less active."
Even though trophy bucks are easier to kill during the rut, Foster believes this year's edition of that annual phenomenon "will probably be more challenging for archery hunters overall."
"Typically, when you have very good oak mast conditions, deer are more dispersed and more difficult to pattern," he explained. "This is a year when white oak and chestnut oak are pretty abundant. Hunters are reporting that they saw deer in the field in September but aren't seeing them now.
"That's because the acorn drop has occurred. Deer have moved out of the fields and are now in the woods feasting on acorns."
Foster said hunters who hope to succeed during the rut should do some careful scouting.
"First, hunters should look for an area that has good scrape activity," he said. "Scrape activity indicates that bucks are using the area. Find some good scrapes that have a good food source nearby, and you've probably found a good area to hunt."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.