Neither frogs, nor mosquitos, nor lingering foliage stays the whitetail buck from its appointed rut.

If there was any doubt photoperiod, in this case the shortening of daylight, is the trigger for the annual breeding spree for deer, I present this fall, which weather-wise is weeks behind schedule.

Normally there is frost in the air and most leaves are on the ground. On Tuesday, a local swamp looked and felt like early October as I swatted a few skeeters, spooked sunning peepers and had a hard time seeing though all the foliage remaining on brush.

I was duck hunting, but there was little doubt the rut is in full swing. I saw bucks chasing does, does scampering from bucks and both with a lot less caution than at any other time of the year.

Typically, whitetail movement is stalled by mild temperatures and mostly limited to night time feeding forays. They are wearing fur coats, after all.

However, all behavior rules get broken when the rut is rolling. And, its good to be a deer hunter right now.

A friend claims he saw a 10-pointer and a couple of does five times at all points around his stand in the same sitting Monday evening without being able to loose an arrow. A Michigan City resident narrowly avoided a crash with a buck on U.S. 20 while on his lunch break.

"It's (the rut) definitely on," Dale Elkins of Elkins Taxidermy and Deer Processing near Hudson Lake, said on Tuesday.

"I just had a 160 (antler scoring) in here two minutes ago," Elkins said, adding; "it went 202 (pounds)."

The bruiser buck was just the most recent in a slew of trophies brought in during the past week.

"We've had a lot of nice racks and weight wise we've had a 239 (pounds) and a 231,” Elkins said. “We're ahead of where we were last year."

Elkins cautioned deer hunters to take care of the meat during mild weather.

"They need to get it to a processor quickly (to avoid spoiling)," he said, mentioning his shop is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EST).

Elkins, who is one of several deer butchers in the area, can be checked out at www.elkinstaxidermy.com or (574) 654-8845.

He also suspects the rut will last into the beginning of deer-firearms season, which opens Nov. 12 and continues through Nov. 27.

• DNR answers rifle questions: Still scratching your head over what’s legal and what isn’t in the new rifle regulations for deer hunting in Indiana this year? Here are three questions that will guide you to the correct answers: 1. Does the rifle have a barrel at least 16 inches long? 2. Is the rifle chambered to fire a cartridge with a case length of at least 1.16 inches? 3. Does that cartridge fire a bullet that is either .243 inches or .308 inches in diameter (or their metric equivalents, 6mm and 7.62mm, respectively)?

If the answer is yes to all three, then it’s legal under HEA 1231, a law passed earlier this year by the State Legislature. If the answer is “no” to any of those three questions, it does not meet the standards for new rifle options.

Remember … Bullet diameter, cartridge case length and barrel length are the determining factors of this law. Any bullet smaller than .243 (6mm), larger than .308 (7.62mm), or in between .243 and .308 does not qualify. Neither does a cartridge with a case length that is less than 1.16 inches, or a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches.

Here’s a twist, though. Some cartridges may appear to fall outside the allowable .243 and .308 requirements because of how they are labeled. Take the .240 Weatherby Magnum, for instance. Disregard the .240 label because the bullet diameter actually is .243 inches and therefore legal to use. Similarly, .30, .30-06 and .300-caliber cartridges are legal because their bullet diameters are .308 inches.

A few more points are rifle can be used only on private land, full-metal jacketed bullets are illegal, a hunter can possess only 10 legal rounds while in the field and there is no tree-stand requirement to use the new rifle options.

If you still have questions about new rifle options for deer hunting, call (317) 232-4003 or (317) 232-4200.

• More deer answers: Just about everything else you may want to know about deer and deer hunting in Indiana can be found at http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/8367.htm. The site includes license requirements, check-in requirements, safety tips, game-care guides and more.

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