It seems like just yesterday that the Hunting Page was telling you that we would once again be tracking the whitetail rut again this year. We announced in August and by September we had our Stealth Cams set on food plots and mock scrapes and licking branches. Our deer observation teams were trained and hard at work documenting observed deer behavior. Dr. Craig Dougherty of NorthCountry Whitetails was gathering rut data for his 42nd consecutive year and putting together the first report of 2019.
We started tracking the rut in the middle of September, our rut meter read 2% but it was hunting season and the early signs were aplenty. Whitetail hunters were hunting food, but a fresh scrape or rub line can be plenty tempting. By mid-October the rut meter was registering in the mid- teens but climbing fast, deer were still in their summer “feed frenzy” but the rut was on the way, it would still be a good while before we were even thinking about calling “rut on”. The call went out out early November, November 13 to be exact. The signs were there, bucks chasing estrus does, fawns looking for momma and big bucks feeling their oats, game cameras worked overtime and hunters from across whitetail country were reporting “rut on” on an hourly basis, lots of hunters. The big boys were on the prowl, it was nothing to see a dozen big bucks on camera in a 24 hour period and a dozen road kills on the way to camp, our rut meter was pegged at a solid 99% . Bucks were chasing does and hunters were sending us big buck “hero shots”, every deer camp in the woods had at least one hanging. The rut was “on” and the woods were alive with testosterone crazed bucks. It was time to be in a stand, any stand, the rut makes good hunters of us all. The rut meter stayed at 99% from the 13th til just after thanksgiving this year.
By the first week of December, the rut meter was on it’s way down (75%. Deer) were still being bred and chases were still being observed but the intensity had fallen off and you had to be at the right place at the right time, the rut was slowing down. By mid-December we were down to a 25% reading, and the deer were back on the feed, the occasional doe was being bred but for the most part if you wanted to shoot you had better be hunting food. Fawns and does were back together and bucks were feeding with does chases were a thing of the past and all but the biggest bucks were more interested in filling their bellies than chasing the girls.
By Christmas the rut had all but ended it was all about hunting food unless you were heading south to catch some rut action in Alabama or Louisiana or even some parts of Texas and Florida. The rut had come and gone across some 90+ percent of the whitetail world.
It rolls out this way about every year, the days might vary a day or two or even by a couple of weeks but it happens none-the-less. The days shorten, the hormones trigger, and an estrus doe hooks up with a testosterone crazed buck. Two-hundred days later a 8 pound spotted wonder hits the ground and the cycle is complete. It’s been that way for a couple thousand years and if we are lucky it will stay that way for a thousand more.