Our first Rut Report of the year was published in early September. We reported observing the usual early season rubs and fresh scrapes sure signs of the upcoming rut. By now bucks were “hard horned” and light sparring and pushing matches were occurring. Bachelor groups were beginning to break up, but doe-fawn groups were still intact. The deer were for the most part in their summer feeding patterns, but slowly transitioning to Fall food sources dominated whitetail behavior patterns.
Our whitetail hunting experts advised hunting late summer-early fall food sources and cautioned that most of the big bucks were for the most part, late evening/nocturnal movers. The smart money was on hunting early acorns, apples, assorted fruits and fresh greens. As usual the deer were working hard turning brassica stands into muddy feed lots. Rut travel patterns were not readily observed.
Fast forward to mid-November, the rut was in high gear with multiple cameras showing chasing sparring and breeding. Nocturnal bucks were now daytime movers seeking an estrus doe anyplace one could be found. Mature Bucks were on the march and the best hunting occurred every day, all day long. It was time to take vacation or call in sick, and head to the woods. The doe/fawn groups were broken up and food sources were being patrolled by love crazed bucks. When the bucks weren’t tearing up the brush or fighting for dominance, they were grunting a doe or snort-wheezing a warning at competing buck.
By early December, the breeding stage of the rut had begun to wane. This pattern was observed over roughly 94% of the whitetail’s range. The farther north, the truer the pattern. A few southern locales had yet to experience the rut and are neck deep in the rut currently.
All in all, the rut for many was a rollercoaster as it often is. The cold fronts of late October coupled with the optimum time for the hunters moon, gave many who were able to be in the woods, a shot at success. When the temps rose, the daytime activity dropped for many across much of whitetail country, giving us tiny spurts of activity. A lack in cold temperatures as many seasons came to a close throughout December, turned into a slow late-season hunt for many.
As seasons close across the US and Canada, we look forward to diving into preparing for 2024!
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