-By Randy Cooper
Here we are again: It’s late October and the rut is upon us. There will be a lot going on in the deer world. Knowing what is going on and when can help you bag your buck.
Research has found that moon phase and photoperiodism, shortness of daylight, are the two controlling factors in timing of the rut in both the North and the South. Photoperiodism has so much influence that it is responsible for the rise in testosterone in a buck and the cut off of blood supply to velvet-covered antlers, which results in the hardening of the bone and drying and peeling of their velvet in late August into September. Moon phase and the shortness of daylight also time when the SEEKING, CHASING AND BREEDING phases of whitetail rut take place.
Bucks begin to SEEK a couple of days before the rutting moon. This is not the peak of rut, but actually the beginning. Research shows that everything revolves around the second full moon after the autumnal equinox, which falls on October 26 this year – this also marks the start of rut.
As the full moon is up, bucks start to move more. This is evident in the increase of deer/car collisions. As the moon begins to wane and nights become increasingly darker, you’re going to see the CHASE. Now is the time to put in plenty of seat time. The buck’s testosterone is maxed. They’re not eating or bedding. They’re chasing every doe they come in contact with and cross checking trails to find estrous urine scent that does will be dribbling as they walk. When a buck finds this scent, he hits it like a bloodhound and begins to grunt with every step as he tracks the estrous doe. This is when I use a doe in estrous scent on a drag rag. I drag this to within 20 yards of my stand and usually put it over the trail I expect the buck to come in on and place it in a tree limb about nose high.
At the chase point in rut, bucks become somewhat predictable. They will be using funnels, drainages and travel corridors to find does. They will be laying down lots of scrapes and rubs. They will also respond to calls better now than at any other time. Use rattling, grunt calls and a doe estrous bleat call now. My two biggest bucks to date were both rattled in during the chase phase. Combining the estrous scent, the sound of a buck fight and a doe in estrous bleating, you’ve just played a performance that should have earned you an academy award but your true reward will be the buck that responds and puts himself right in your lap.
The first week of November and the two week period after will be lock down time. This is when bucks are actually BREEDING does. You’ll know this is happening because scrapes will go cold and you won’t see any new rubs. Activity in the woods will drop way off. Remember: November 3-14 there will be a lot of breeding taking place. The cycle is: SEEKING, CHASING AND BREEDING.
If I had to pick a time for a vacation from work this year, it would be the 7-10 days after the rutting moon of October 26. This is the best time to be in the woods – during the chase phase between 7:45am and 12pm, and again in the afternoon. Watch the barometer and temperature, too. If barometric pressure is moving up or down, deer movement will increase; if temperatures are average or below, deer movement will also increase. So, pack a lunch, let the chores pile up and stay on your stand until your butt turns blue or until the buck you’re after comes along and you get the job done.