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Wandering whitetails, nervous drivers

If any of the numerous predictions that the whitetail rut will commence in full force this week can be believed, I'll be spending a lot of time in the woods.

Outdoor travelers should recognize that last week's long, long journey will be condensed this week, as the hours of daylight grow increasingly shorter.

As most hunters know, during the spring and summer, deer travel in family groups. However, deer movement greatly intensifies during the middle of November as diminishing hours of daylight serve to trigger the breeding season.

It is important for motorists to note the increased deer movement as well, especially since it continues throughout the evening hours.

The peak periods of deer activity occur during the morning and evening hours, which are also when most people are driving to, or coming back from work.

Changing weather patterns also tend to compound the situation, with limited visibility, snow and icy roads a standard for travel in the Adirondacks.

Most local residents can relate at least one deer/vehicle incident. Living in the Adirondacks, it's a fact of life.

Insurance industry surveys indicate that nationwide, deer/motor vehicle collisions have historically experienced an annual peak during the month of November.

Despite claims that blame hunters for the increased deer movement, bucks travel extensively during this timeframe seeking does, regardless of the hunting pressure.

At this time of year, a buck's wanderlust has more to do with lust than wander. A mature buck may venture a great distance to find a doe, or it may never leave its home woods.

The major factor for determining buck movement is the buck to doe ratio. Bucks will disperse during the rut, but the most dominant buck will usually be holding tight to his home turf. Younger bucks have been found to venture over 5 miles distance from their home areas, in search of does. While on this journey, it is important to recognize that a buck may show little fear of vehicles.

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