Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 

                                   Beware the Rut

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

I have to be careful where and when I walk these days. The woods are filled with people with guns and crossbows, looking to shoot deer and I don't want to be mistaken for one of them.

It's all because of the rut or the rutting season to be more exact. The rutting season is another term for the mating/breeding season of the white-tailed deer.

That's when deer, especially bucks, are more active and less cautious. Bucks are looking for does and will chase after as many as possible for weeks, barely eating. That's how the rut takes its toll, leaving bucks worn out, easier to hunt, but also more susceptible to being hit by a car. This is the time of year when they are most likely to dart in front of a car, so be extra watchful while driving.

The rut can start as early as the end of September, and last all the way through the winter months. Bucks usually start this process when the velvet is falling off their antlers 
and it can last up until they start to shed those antlers.
The average peak day for the white-tail rut in the U.S. is mid November. There is even a theory that the second full moon after the autumnal equinox is believed to trigger the peak in rutting activity.

I'm not sure about that, but the rut is such a big part of this country's pioneer history, that this month's full moon is called the "Rutting Moon" by many.

Back to those woods behind my house. I spend a lot of time back there walking my dof, picking flowers, sometimes just wandering. They are basically an extension of my backyard, but during this time of the year I don't go back there except in the middle of the day. Early morning, twilight or evening are too dangerous.

Just a few day ago I saw two men walking through those woods. They were not on my property, but one of them was carrying a bow.

I was immediately defensive, feaful and angry. Why did they have to be here?

There are deer back there and I feel protective of them because I see them a lot. There is one male buck in particular that I've met up with several times over the years.

He is very territorial and doesn't like me being back there. He'll give me this look and it is quite a look. Glowering and confrontational, he does not turn away and run like the does will do.

His look is hostile, withering and angry, as if willing me to tangle with him.

Usually when I come upon him I'll hold my breathe and admire his striking looks, but a few times I've stumbled onto him and his harem and backed away slowly, giving them space and respect.

I can't help staring back, even if it is considered confrontational, because he is quite the stunner.

Most times I've seen him without his antlers, but last fall I saw him courting a doe and they looked so pretty together.

A month or so later, in early winter I saw him again, this time with little antlers. They looked really weird, like knobby antenna sprouting from his head.

Then early this spring I saw the doe a lot by herself and then with two small fawns. They were adorable with their tiny white spots.

One day I saw the three of them crossing the road together, as I held my breath. A few times this summer the doe actually brought her fawns into our backyard to eat.

I watched them from the second floor bathroom enchanted, as they wandered about the yard. The fawns were nearly as big as their mother and clearly able to feed themselves, but still stayed close to mom.

I haven't seen the buck in some time now and fear he was a victim of last year's rutting season, which of course coincides with the hunting season.

That's why it's best to beware of the rut.

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