What Should I Watch for During the Rut?
If you’re wondering what should I watch for during the rut, Oklahoma Landsource can help you out. Every year, new studies try to predict the rut beginning in several regions of the United States. After all, this period of the year is of utmost relevance for hunters. Thus, researchers and hunters look to predict the rut peak by analyzing some factors.
But, it may seem difficult for the average hunter to time the rut correctly. So, we will go over some aspects that help hunters to take advantage of their preferred time of the year.
- Consider Geography
When the peak breeding season occurs is very context-dependent. Hunters in the northern half of the United States can more reliably predict when the rut will begin. However, those in the southern half will have a much more difficult time doing so. The reason is the more regular and steady cold weather patterns in the north.
Does tend to begin reproducing as the days become shorter and the temperature decreases. Female deer have an internal biological clock that signals when it is time to enter the rut.
The doe’s heat cycle is timed to maximize the chances of survival for her progeny.
Doe that is bred too early may go through the most vulnerable period of their pregnancies during the coldest months. During this time of the year, they cannot find adequate food and shelter.
If a buck breeds her too late, her fawns will be born too close to the following breeding season. So she will not have enough time to recuperate between cycles. That leaves her and her fawns very susceptible to predators.
- Look for Cold Fronts
When determining the rut, the temperature plays a crucial role. Whitetails must rely on environmental cues like temperature to know when the breeding season begins and ends.
To get better information about this, I have already consulted experts. Jeff Sturgis, from Whitetail Habitat Solutions, frequently talks about the effect of abnormally warm hunting seasons on deer breeding activity.
If the weather in late October and early November is warm, most breeding will occur at night. Therefore, regular daily activities will be minimal.
However, when that late October cold front arrives, magic happens.
Suddenly, the doe becomes somewhat tolerant of bucks tailing them. Here, it is possible to take down a good buck during the five to seven days, period when they are active and fighting for the females’ attention.
- Lunar Phase
Some hunters think the moon phase affects deer behavior, while others think it is nonsense. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of data from the scientific community to support these speculations.
Shorter days are known to stimulate deer’s breeding instincts. So, it might be reasonable to assume that the moon phase, specifically the presence or absence of a new moon, might influence the rut timing.
- Historical Data
In northern Oklahoma, a good friend oversees a big deer farm. Since his entire career is breeding deer, I contacted him last year in early October. I expected he could provide some light on when the rut will begin.
He sounded as if he had been asked that question a million times.
“It will start at the same time it did last year. And the year before that. And the year before that,” he said.
My friend was right. I had to admit it. Each year, give or take a few days, the dramatic increase in daytime activity began roughly at the same time. The regularity of rut timing was so evident now that I cannot believe I never noticed it before!
An abnormally dry year or significantly warmer than average weather could throw off this consistency. Yet, analyzing historical data can be one of the most helpful tools for timing the rut in that location.
Additional Factors to Consider for Timing the Rut
It is only human for hunters to get impatient. But there are other considerations beyond nature’s timing. Instead, examine historical information to learn the routes the bucks take and the times of the year when things pick up speed.
Besides, check the weather forecast daily, giving special attention to the advance of cold fronts. You will want to spend as much time as possible on the stand during late October and early November.
You cannot predict precisely when that giant buck will show up to you. So, stay prepared!