When hunters hear that word, most will immediately think of the rut or breeding season for whitetail deer. I have to admit it is and has been for as long as I can remember, my favorite month of the year. I am sure that many hunters reading this right now will agree with me. The woods and fields seem to be alive with bucks chasing does.
Where I hail from, the peak of the rut falls during the first two weeks of November. I have had the best luck from November 7 through 12 every year.
That’s right. Every year at the same time the rut seems to kick into high gear. It is the same wherever you live in Texas. The peak dates may be different according to where you live, but wherever you live, those dates will remain the same every year. Why is that?
What causes deer to mate at the same time every year? I ask that same question to my students during my bow hunting classes, and I get the same answers; “the colder weather triggers the bucks to mate.” “The bucks are just waiting for the does to go into estrous.”
Finally this one really caught me off guard: “As the food sources dwindle, the bucks know that it is time for another activity.” All I can say to that last one is…Wow!
The real reason is simply the loss of daylight. Every day in the autumn months, the sun goes down a little earlier. When the sunlight finally diminishes to a certain point, it kick-starts the glands of both the bucks and does, and the rut begins. That explains why it’s the same time year after year.
Granted, the bucks will show much more activity, much earlier than the does. Eventually, the does go into estrous, and they are receptive to any bucks in the area for just a few days.
If the does do not get bred at that time, then usually the does will go back into estrous in 28 days. This is what is commonly known as the secondary rut.
Texas is such a huge state that there is more than just one peak of the rut. I recently read an article from the Texas Parks and Wildlife site that outlined the different zones in Texas and the different peaks of the rut for that particular area. I found it fascinating and thought I would share some of my findings with you.
In this article, they say that the Gulf prairies and marshes are the place where the earliest breeding happens. Early action starts around August 24 and lasts until the end of November with peak breeding of September 30 in the north and the end of October in the south.
In the Post Oak Savannah region, peak dates were November 10 and 11.
The Piney Woods area peaks a little later. November 22 is the golden date here, however, some breeding takes place October 21 to January 5.
In the Rolling Plains once again, two areas were mentioned, the north region and the southern region. Peak dates for the northern region proved to be around December 3. While in the south, November 20 was the best day.
The Edwards Plateau region, which is rated the highest for deer production in the state, was also divided into three different areas. The east, central and west with the dates November 7, November 24, and December 5.
In the north-central part of Texas, peak breeding usually takes place around November 15, while in the Trans-Pecos, although much breeding is done in November, here the date for peak breeding is right around December 8.
In South Texas, it is no surprise that this area has the latest rut in the state. Consequently, the peak breeding dates were from December 16 to Christmas Eve.
These dates that dictate the peak of the rut will be fairly consistent every year—good to know if you have some vacation time still unused for the year. Heck, I know guys who plan vacations around the rut in their area. One of my friends gets some kind of “hunter’s flu” every year on November 10. I guess the fresh air and tree stands help in his recovery because he feels much better after a few days in the woods.
No matter where you are in these United States, there will be a time that is known as the October Lull. Much is written about this phenomenon, and it occurs every year just before the peak of the rut in the area. I have witnessed what actually happens at this time. All of a sudden, the woods seem to quiet down, and the deer that were all over the woods just a few days earlier, are now seemingly absent.
The bucks have now located does that are about to go into estrous, and they will bed down next to them and wait for their opportunity to mount them. As the does get hungry and stand up to feed, the bucks are immediately next to them trying to mount. If the doe is not ready yet, she will bed right back down, and so will the buck. This scenario goes on and on for a few days until the doe finally does go into estrous and submits to the buck. That explains why we, the hunters, cannot see any deer movement for about a week.
If this ever happens to you, do not give up hope. This lull only means that any day now the bucks will again be in full swing and on the prowl for another doe.
Once they start moving again, the bucks will be chasing does everywhere. This is the peak of the rut. This is the best time to be in the woods and your best time to be successful on bagging a big boy.
I have always said that patients are made for doctors, but in this case, patience will be the key to a great day in the deer woods.
Have fun and hunt safe out there.