Not All Buck Chases are the Same
One of the best indicators of the rut is bucks chasing does, but not all chases are the same, deer smart hunters recognize the difference. Early in bow season, I saw a young buck literally charge into a field and run every doe out of the place. Rut on! Not a chance.
That was a testosterone driven chase. It is all about the hormones pulsing through a bucks body. The doe had nothing to do with the chase, in fact, she was more or less and innocent victim. Testosterone driven chases are typically short in duration and end as soon as something else pops into the amped up bucks (typically a young buck) mind. Kind of like a puppy chasing its tail. This is not the rut you wait for every year. The chase behavior you have been waiting for is estrus driven or said another way, when testosterone meets estrus. A few days before a doe comes into estrus she starts to emit pheromones that tell any buck within smelling distance that “it’s time”. Bucks will come to that doe and beginning “work’ her. She will often attract multiple bucks (including a mature one or two). Instead of running away in absolute fear something in her head tells her to “stick around, see what the buck has in mind. She may not “stand” for the buck but she will be plenty interested.
The most dominant buck in the bunch will attempt to take control by running off competing bucks while he keeps keeping track of the doe (no small feat). Chasing will often ensue but it will be purposeful chasing. On occasion the chasing (or maybe pheromones) will get the better of the buck and he will physically dominate the doe to the point of forcing her to take cover. This is when you need to be in the woods, we refer to it as the hunter’s rut.
Knowing the difference between a testosterone driven chase and a chase that has been triggered by estrus can mean the difference between a great season and a bust. We only have so many days to hunt. The trick is to be out there when testosterone meets estrus.