The countdown to the rut is on, this week we are a little bit closer to calling “rut on”, that said, we are still a good way before we call “rut on”. Our rut watchers are out in force and here’s what they are seeing: plenty of soft chasing, increased buck sightings, older aged bucks moving during daylight hours and road kills are up. This week we’ve moved the rut meter up a few notches to 50%, this increase is primarily a function of the advancement of the season and the increase in testosterone levels in bucks which happens as the days shorten.
Our watchers are reporting nightly chases breaking out on destination food sources. Hard and soft mast is on the ground and food plots are in peak productivity, crops are ready for harvest and the whitetails are doing their best to get their fair share. Reports like this have been coming in from all across whitetail country, with one exception, one of our reporters from central, New York got in the middle of a “breeding party” where the bucks were going “crazy”, doing everything you would expect during the peak of the rut. Was the “rut on” in his part of the world, not a chance, he stumbled upon a doe in heat which had all the bucks in the area stirred up, the occasional “early estrus” is to be expected, and when it happens, it will draw a crowd.
It’s perfectly normal for a doe or two to come into estrus at this time of year, so before the majority of the herd is ready to breed. Early does always draw a crowd, as the bucks have been ready to breed since they peeled their velvet and went “hard horned”. It is the does estrus that drives the timing of the rut, when the girls are ready the bucks will be there to do their part.
Hunters will figure out what the does are feeding on and hunt it, and/or the travel routes does use to get to and from the various foods they are using. The driving force in the deer woods is still very much “the need to feed”. But bucks will be harassing every food source in the area that has multiple does feeding in them. The rut still lies very much ahead.