Then another heavy freeze hit the first week of January, and it seemed to shut down deer movement. This was followed by yet another snow event the week of Jan. My son Ruffin and I hunted in Area 6 on Dec. There were two adult does killed on this hunt, and examination of the ovaries showed that ovulation was taking place, which meant the rut was on. I killed my third Area 4 deer on Jan. I suspect deer movement was poor with all the cracking and breaking of limbs in the woods, and they simply laid low during this time. It appeared to be a relatively low harvest of trophy-class bucks last season, based on the number of quality bucks at the Louisiana Sportsman Show in Gonzales in March.
The extremely cold winter days in January may have contributed to the lack of hunter success during late-rut. When the primitive deer season opens in late October, actual breeding activity should be cranking up, with bucks chasing does. It would certainly be important for Area 2 hunters to be in their stands during the first two weeks of regular gun season. Area 4 hunters should see some chasing toward the end of November, while hunters in Areas 1 and 6 should see activity in late December and early January.
This should be a year that late-rut hunters will get to hunt the second round of breeding activity in late January. Bucks will still be in their bachelor groups, and will be feeding heavily during this time. This area of the state is not known for producing the wall hangers that are found in the Mississippi Delta parishes. The limit of deer in Area 10 is three see regulation book. Bowhunters will see activity when that season opens on Oct. And the primitive and gun hunters better be in their stands when those seasons open up. When a mature buck or aggressive yearling buck encounters a stranger or a recognized contender, one or two things occur.
Stare-downs or shadowing usually occur first. It's generally a buck's antlers and body size that cause one antagonist to cut short the encounter by shying away. Most bucks are aware of the size of their antlers and body, and can quickly size up the situation.
However, if two bucks of similar size - with testosterone-injected attitudes to match - find each other, the results can get ugly. If a fight to the death begins, the scene can be spectacular. Antlers become ice picks, and there are no rules of combat. A buck's objective is to knock his opponent to the ground, and then stick him in the abdomen or hind quarters with his antlers. Such a fight can be gruesome, and when it's over, victor and loser alike often need time to recover before resuming their pursuit of does.
Combatants can even die from their wounds. Of all the times to hunt, the seeking phase it tops, especially for a treestand hunter. Bucks are on the move, but not yet chasing the does they encounter. Their movement patterns through funnels and along scrape and rub lines is more predictable. Unfortunately, the seeking phase only lasts about a week to ten days before blending into the chase phase.
The Chase Phase The chase phase often gets confused with the seeking phase. The two behavior periods overlap, but their different. During the chase phase, does are almost entering estrus, and bucks are frantically trying to be the first to find them. Now a buck will chase every doe it encounters. Such meetings often resemble a cutting horse trying to cut a calf out of a herd of cows. A buck can be persistent at this time, knowing it will eventually find a doe that won't run. During the chase phase, scraping and rubbing continue, but are not as frequent as during the seeking phase.
The chase phase often brings more intense fights, especially if two bucks are pursuing the same doe. The chase phase can be a great time to hunt. Unfortunately, it often takes bucks out of range as they chase does. Such scenes can be frustrating. The Tending and Breeding Phase This is the stage that gives the rut its name. When a doe finally enters estrus, it's willing to accept a buck's company wherever it goes.
In many parts of North America, the buck-to-doe ratios are so weighted toward females that all available bucks can easily find a hot doe. When breeding begins, scraping nearly ceases and bucks curtail much of the activity that took place throughout the rut's dominance, seeking and chasing phases.
Rather than traveling, a buck will stay with a hot doe for up to 72 hours. For the first 24 hours, a doe will smell right but won't be ready to breeds. During the second 24 hours, the doe will be in full estrus and allow the buck to breed her several times. Then, because she continues to smell right for the last 24 hours, a buck will continue to stay near. During those three days, a buck will move only when the doe moves. Because most does cover little ground, deer activity can seemingly halt during this time.
Only when the doe cycles out of estrus will the buck move on to look for another estrus doe. The first does to come into estrus will often cause a commotion by attracting several bucks. When that happens, a dominant breeder buck never rests as he tries to run off all intruder bucks in order to stay in position to breed the doe. Because they have no time to rest or eat, breeder bucks can lose up to 25 percent of their weight during the rut's seeking, chasing and breeding phases.
Of all the rut's phases, the breeding time can be the most difficult to hunt because movement is limited. At this time, about the only way treestand hunters will see action is to place their stands in the hot doe's core area or in sites frequented by doe groups. Post Rut - The Recovery Time By the time a whitetail's prime breeding period ends, a buck's testosterone level is rapidly falling.
A breeder buck is also so rut-worn that its body is in a near meltdown. Due to increased hormone levels, deer wander about earlier in the day and rut signs become more prevalent. Like the pre-rut phase, staking out the areas between the bedding and feeding zones is still the most effective tactic. However, morning hunts start to become effective now—especially when setting up between a bedding spot and an area with a lot of rut signs. Little actual mating happens during this phase, but every buck out there should now be making a play for estrus females.
With just one thing on their minds, bucks lower their guard and become easier to harvest. To hunt this phase of the rut, set up alongside trails that run parallel to any fields, open areas and food sources.
The Rut in White-tailed Deer
Bucks use these trails to search for estrus does that might have traveled along them. In hill country, bucks travel along ridges, staying a little bit away from the top of the ridgeline to avoid being skylined, so setting up on the leeward side of ridges works here. They might also visit doe bedding areas in search of the females that occupy them. It is during this phase that throwing out all the stops when it comes to trying to attract deer becomes effective. Both doe-in-heat and buck-grunt calls work, with the former attracting bucks in search of a mate and the latter pulling in bucks that want to chase competition off their territory.
Decoys also work to attract either males taking an interest in a forthcoming unmoving when approached doe or males who might view them as competition. Naturally, scents can also work during this phase if deployed properly at around waist height in the surrounding foliage. The tending phase is when much of the actual breeding happens. During this phase, mating pairs usually hole themselves up in thick cover, which can make this phase of the rut very difficult to hunt.
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Hunting this phase of the rut involves keeping watch over known bedding areas. Setting up over narrower transit areas that buck traverse in search of another estrus doe is also a decent choice.
Flexibility is key here, as is getting as much intelligence as possible using cameras, tracks or local sighting reports. As with the previous phase, using calls aggressively might still prove effective. Many bucks are still sexually fired up during this phase, and the promise of another female might lure one in. They might not, however, be as keen on driving out competition as they previously were. The post-rut phase is generally one of the toughest phases to hunt. Breeding should have died down by now, though a few does might still enter estrus during this phase.
The elevated hunting levels during the peak of the rut, in particular, would have pressured the deer into being a lot more cautious. This phase marks a return to more reserved hunting tactics. Bedding is once again the chief method for bagging a buck, and hunters might have to contend with the thick cover the bucks prefer to hide in during this phase. At the very tail end of the deer rutting season, a second rut might occur, which is when females who were not bred during the first rut go into a second estrus cycle.
Doe fawns can also become sexually active for the first time during this phase and enter estrus. If food is abundant, the latter can happen as a larger event. During this phase, hunting primarily takes place around food sources and along bed-to-feed trails. Doe fawns might also go out in the open, which has the potential to attract males out of cover for a clean shot.
However, because only a few does go into estrus during this phase, it generally yields slim pickings unless food is unusually abundant during and after the peak rut. Hunting the deer rutting season can be an extremely rewarding experience. Back Camouflage Break-Up Country. Shadow Grass Blades. Elements Agua.
Hunting the Rut…Buck Patterns
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