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#5415934 - 11/12/14 01:15 PM Understanding the rut
mooney_ag Offline
Tracker

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 537
Loc: Aledo, Texas
Hunted as a kid and up until time to start a family. Hunts mainly in Palo Pinto County and out west in Nolan County. Never saw or never noticed any real rut activity during my hunts. Maybe some late action. But typically I just hunted well traveled trails through creek bottoms or draws. I have read lots of articles to understand the rut and deer movement but prefer to key in on experience rather than theory.

Fast forward 14 years to today. Just started back hunting. Not sure why it took so long. I am hunting in Mills County, about 5 miles SE of Goldthwaite. I am hunting an overlook for a couple of draws into a saddle with heavy cover. Bachelor groups broke up around the middle of October and of course most of those shooters haven’t been seen since. Hard to see deer moving along trails more popping in and out of some small open feeding areas.

Opening weekend we saw lots of does, spikes and small bucks moving and near feeders. One spike was chasing everything he could get close to around the feeders. A young, legal eight was chasing a doe 100 yards from camp in open pasture about 10 yards away from the tree line. Saw a nice mature buck chasing in the open pasture north of us.

Second weekend we saw less does more small bucks around feeders even at the same time. Does were seen less in groups and more solo. One spike and doe came in feeding together where the spike (with doe) chased off a smaller spike. Good signs of dominance around feeder but all small time bucks. Saw a nice buck during the night feeding with a doe 20 yards from camp. One or two more bigger bucks chasing in the open pasture to the north.

I am assuming the does are coming into estrous since they are paired. Is this the early sign of the rut before it gets heavy or is this right smack in the middle? Will sightings be more in the open or in the cover? What are best chances now for the bigger deer and what to expect two weeks to a month out?

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#5415967 - 11/12/14 01:33 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
Texas buckeye Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 11/22/11
Posts: 2953
Loc: Keller
My meager understanding of the rut is as follows:

Pre-rut all the bucks separate and sparring/dominance fights start taking place. Scrapes and other sign of buck presence are formed. As the time gets closer the younger bucks may "pair" or chase after doe, hoping they come into estrus but there is little if any receptiveness by the does in this phase. Once a doe comes into estrus, she will find a buck scrape and pee in it, and continue to pee along a trail she is walking. Once the buck smells that scent, he will lock onto that scent and follow until he comes across that doe. This is when you typically see bucks nose down following scent. Once the doe is spotted the buck will follow closely, and pay attention ot the buck and then the pair may breed several times to ensure fertilization over a few day period or maybe just a single day. At this time the does will typically be close to their "house" and feed nearby and not wandering much, the bucks will be close by to the doe the whole time. After that doe is bred, the buck will hope to find more doe in estrus and follow those scents. Repeat process for as long as the estrus period for the area. Some areas have very narrow estrus periods (a day or two days averaged over years) whereas some places have broader estrus periods (lasting several days to maybe a week averaged over years). The actual rut time is when deer tend to go "missing" unless they have a "house" on your land which you hunt over.

Most of the chasing many have seen over the first few weeks of November have been little guys, hormones raging and hoping to catch anything. Think of them as the dweeby guys who don't have a clue and are just following cute girls hoping they catch a look...the older bucks may not ever breed doe, and most of the breeding will be done by middle aged bucks who know what they are looking for and will be happy to exert their dominance over younger bucks.


Please correct as needed, I don't know all and certainly this isn't as much from experience as it is from reading. So, others on here will know much more about this process. And also, most "experts" in the field will say that weather conditions and moon phases and all that stuff have no bearing on the estrus period of the doe, it is just historical data (and fawn birth time) they go by which shows the timing is almost always the same time for any given area year after year.

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#5415977 - 11/12/14 01:37 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
Texas buckeye Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 11/22/11
Posts: 2953
Loc: Keller
follow on, the rut will continue and bucks will continue to follow doe as far as a few weeks out perhaps, but the doe will go back to their normal routines soon after estrus and resume eating at feeders and such. As bucks follow these doe in, hoping to get a piece, they will be called following but there will be no breeding going on.

For any doe that isn't successful breeding/fertilizing, they will have another cycle about 28 days later, and the mythical second rut can happen. This is rare to be a large movement, as most doe (about 95+%) WILL breed successfully the first time. After a couple weeks of this, bucks get worn out and will hit food sources heavily. As will the doe which are pregnant and needing more nutrients.

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#5415999 - 11/12/14 01:52 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
redchevy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 23348
Loc: Texas
I think a lot of it depends.

In some areas the rut take place before general season opens. In some areas it is late in the season. Areas with out of whack buck to doe ratios I feel will typically have multiple ruts as the few buck have to have more time to make their rounds, however research ive seen indicates that pretty much no matter how bad the ratios are all the does will get bread.

We never really noticed a lot of rut activity on the leases we hunted in the hill country, I think it is because we were overrun with does and probably had a 1:10 buck to doe ratio or worse, you didn't see evidence of chacing etc. because the does were giving it away to any available buck. I think chasing fighting and general rutting behavior is much more evident in populations that have a relatively even buck to do ratio. From what I have read seems like breeding is done pretty evenly among the age classes. Big mature bucks don't necessarily have a harem of does and 1.5 YO spikes do get lucky. I have seen does get bread at my feeder so I don't think they go to any special spot to get it done.

That's my limited take.
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#5416018 - 11/12/14 02:00 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
DirtNapTET Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 11/08/13
Posts: 487
Loc: America
Great thread and some really great info.

I was always under the impression though, that the second rut is a result of the yearling does coming into estrus (later than mature does because of their age). Thus increasing the odds of having more than 4-5% of the doe population getting the bucks riled up one last time before the season ends.

Buckeye's explanation obviously makes perfect sense (especially with a high doe-to-buck ratio), but did my hopes and dreams of counting on a definite second rut to connect with a mature buck just get squashed?
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#5416063 - 11/12/14 02:17 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
Cattleman Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/09/13
Posts: 678
Loc: Palo Pinto county
The rut should take place this weekend . After visiting with a biologist this week he told me that their research showed that high percentage of does get bred on or around Nov. 15. The chasing is just pre rut activity the mature bucks like to wait instead of running around like the young ones . You have to keep in mind that all that chasing and running around a mature buck will only breed about 1.5 doe. With this weather getting cold the next couple of weeks will be good hunting after that the bucks will be looking for food. Wheat fields and food plots will be the ticket. Smart mature bucks will hit the corn at night.

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#5416076 - 11/12/14 02:23 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
Texas buckeye Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 11/22/11
Posts: 2953
Loc: Keller
I think the second rut can certainly be a time when yearling does may come into estrus late, quite possible especially in a given area where the rut is early and does drop fawns early in the season. I know in my area a yearling fawn ins't going into estrus late because the fawns aren't dropping early.

I think a lot of that timing depends on where you hunt. I know Southeast ruts early and just west of there in the freer area they rut into december...so everywhere is a little different.

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#5416104 - 11/12/14 02:34 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
Kenneth1977 Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 08/02/13
Posts: 2057
Loc: Alvarado,TX
In mills the real heavy rut starts about the 26-27 right now is kind of there warm up act .
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#5416171 - 11/12/14 03:04 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
Mavric Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 248
Loc: Allen Texas
Yep lots of hype, misconceptions, just plain bad information out there about what triggers it and how long it last. It's easy to miss most of the rut, even between hunting weekends...it can be that short. In Mississippi, I've seen 170 class bucks chasing does in the middle of the day regardless of people, cars, you name it. That's why hunting during rut all day is critical if you want a wall hanger.

It's not strange at all for a mature whitetail to go MIA in September/October....he's usually nocturnal and go to acorns during this time. The smart ones bed down well before 1st light and don't move during daylight - except for rut. I've taken mature bucks that I've never seen on camera (at a feeder).

I've found this rut calendar to be pretty close to what we've seen in our area:

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/planning/rut_whitetailed_deer/

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#5416185 - 11/12/14 03:08 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: mooney_ag]
redchevy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 23348
Loc: Texas
We hunt south texas. Rut varies a lot on location. According to when we start seeing fawns our rut is usually begins around the middle of December and stretches well into January.
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#5416191 - 11/12/14 03:11 PM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: Mavric]
redchevy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 23348
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Mavric
Yep lots of hype, misconceptions, just plain bad information out there about what triggers it and how long it last. It's easy to miss most of the rut, even between hunting weekends...it can be that short. In Mississippi, I've seen 170 class bucks chasing does in the middle of the day regardless of people, cars, you name it. That's why hunting during rut all day is critical if you want a wall hanger.

It's not strange at all for a mature whitetail to go MIA in September/October....he's usually nocturnal and go to acorns during this time. The smart ones bed down well before 1st light and don't move during daylight - except for rut. I've taken mature bucks that I've never seen on camera (at a feeder).

I've found this rut calendar to be pretty close to what we've seen in our area:

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/planning/rut_whitetailed_deer/


Today I was driving around in some rural subdivisions and I had 2 about 3 YO 8pt bucks chasing a doe down the middle of the street in front of me. I probably put putted behind them for a hundred or so yards before they even knew I was there then they just looked at me as I passed and went back after the doe which turned off the other side of the road.
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#5417807 - 11/13/14 10:01 AM Re: Understanding the rut [Re: redchevy]
Mavric Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 248
Loc: Allen Texas
Gotta love it - absolutely lose their minds once the scent hits the nostrils!

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