Enjoy The Rut

Joe Schuster | October 31, 2023

Well October has flown by, which means the annual deer rut cranking up for many readers. GON does a great job with a detailed rut map based on historical data. Nothing in life, and surely not in hunting, is assured, but the map gives us a pretty good idea on the timing of the rut.

It’s a rarity to witness actual buck rutting behavior. You may have seen the chasing stage with a buck trailing a hot doe. You could have seen a mature buck rubbing his back legs together and then urinating down his legs over his tarsal glands to leave the unmistakable scent to all in his territory. You could have seen a buck raking his antlers up and down a branch and licking it or running his antlers up and down a tree leaving the sign of a rub. At the base of his antlers are glands that secrete a scent that gets left on the tree or branch, again marking his territory.

Perhaps you’ve gotten a glimpse of two bucks engaged in a fight over dominance, the winner chasing the loser off. The slamming of two sets of antlers together is really something to see and I’ve only seen this a few times.

Maybe you’ve even witnessed the actual mating of a buck and a doe. One rare day in Illinois, I hit it all. I saw each one of the aforementioned take place over the course of a few morning hours. Incredible sights for sure.

Several of these behaviors are pre-rut activities. Once that is over, the “lock down” is on. Bucks will search and find the hot doe for his mate and pursue her. This means that he will constantly travel with her and drive off all other potential mates. When any of these activities are on, their wariness of hunters is much more reduced. They’re not looking at you in your tree stand, they’re looking at the doe.

Once, a long time ago, I actually had three shots with my bow at a nice buck. Yes, not once, but three times. He came in with a doe and I could not get him to stop. With each missed shot, he just kept circling her. After the third shot, I was out of arrows and had to climb down to retrieve them from the ground to keep hunting the rest of the afternoon. Sadly, that was all the action I had, but it sure was fun! So enjoy the upcoming rut, and best of luck in the field.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.