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Understanding the Rut

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July 8, 2016

by: Willie Ward, Bowtech Pro Staff

What is the Rut? The rut is often a misunderstood art. I am a firm believer on understanding ’who, what, when, where and why’ when it comes to anything. A common misconception about the rut is that it starts when you see a buck chasing a doe. This is not the case. That is actually the “peak of the rut”, and if you don’t hunt until you see that then you have missed a third of the season. Bucks are in rut from the shed of velvet until they drop their antlers.  There are 3 stages of the rut.

The first stage of the rut is “pre-peak rut”; when a buck is starting to shed the velvet from his antlers. This is usually around the end of September. It is at this stage that the buck is very irritable, because his body is going through chemical changes and his testosterone levels are increasing. These bucks will be leaving their bachelor groups and starting to establish their own dominant areas. You will see bucks starting to lock antlers and making rub lines/scrapes. When you start seeing the rub lines, these bucks are building a dominance area and a safe place for them to hole up for the winter. This is a “no bucks allowed” zone for him. The only ones welcome are does.

The second stage of the rut is called the “peak of the rut,” usually occurring from the end of October to the middle of November. This is when the majority of does are in estrus.  At this time, you see the mature buck’s neck swell. The bucks will start marking up major scrape areas. I like to think of this as an invitation to the party. A buck will mark by urinating on his tarsal glands then into the scrape. A doe will be attracted to this when she is in standing estrus and she will mark it as well – letting that buck know that she is ready. The buck will be in the area and smell the doe is ready and will come back to the scrape that the doe is at.

The third and final stage of the rut is called the “Post Rut”. This happens when the majority of does are bred and the bucks are starting to form back into their bachelor groups. Some bucks will still be on the lookout for late estrus doe. This could go all the way into February or even March. The bucks will lose their antler at this time as well. Afterward the rut has ended, bucks will start getting sodium and other nutrients built back up and wait till the next fall.bowtech

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Rut-squareAbout the Author

I have a passion for the outdoors. I grew up hunting and fishing. Whitetail deer have always been an interest to me and I continue to further my knowledge of them. I only shoot archery and BowTech and Diamond are my bows of choice with their technology and quality built products. I am fortunate enough to have industry leaders backing me like BowTech.