The Behavior of Female Deer During the Whitetail Rut
As the annual mating season between whitetail bucks and does, the rut offers hunters excellent chances to harvest the trophy of their dreams. After all, given the exceptional amount of activity during the rut... we'll wait for you to make any colorful jokes…bucks and does are out in the open much more during daylight. This makes them much more accessible for hunters.
Many hunters see the rut as a prime time to hunt trophy bucks, so there is usually a lot of discussion about their behavior during these periods. Still (and at risk of sounding corny), it takes two to tango, and does are the critical second half of the rut. Keep reading to learn more about how their behavior profoundly influences buck behavior this season.
Estrus: How Does Influence the Rut
Even though there is a lot of talk about male whitetails during the rut, females actually have more influence over the annual mating season.
During the rut, does enter estrus, a fancy term for being in heat. Individual females may enter estrus at different times, based on their ages, sexual histories and the number of suitable bucks present. However, the rut overall is influenced by photoperiodism, which is the amount of daylight each day.
In the autumn (typically mid-October through November), photoperiodism is optimal for females to enter estrus. Therefore, the greatest number of does are typically in heat during this time. And this is the foundation of the rut itself. Naturally, females are extremely receptive to mating activity while in heat, making them more attractive to bucks, and tempting bucks to follow them in search of their natural reward. This cements does as the natural driving forces that bring bucks out into the open and increase deer activity during the rut.
Still, individual does are not in heat for weeks on end. According to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, an individual doe is in full estrus for about 24-36 hours. If she is not bred during this time, she regresses and will enter heat again in approximately 28 days. This is why we often see a mini-rut in the late fall (late November or early December) for does that were not mated during their initial estrus periods.
The Benefit of Estrus for Hunters
While in estrus, does are in complete control. To put it bluntly, they lead bucks on the chase.
Bucks are generally cautious animals; usually, they don’t venture out much during daylight. However, driven by their hormonal urges during the rut, they will often act with less caution (even recklessness) to pursue does. This is why you are so likely to see bucks out in the open during broad daylight. And for hunters, this is the prime opportunity to bag the trophy they've been looking for.
Still, once a buck locates a doe, it will generally tend her for two or three days. At this time, they will often disappear into a safe place to complete their rituals. Therefore, depending on how many matings are taking place, you may see a lull in deer activity in some areas. But interestingly, bucks will also typically chase away the doe's fawns during the tending phase. As a result, if you see any fawns wandering alone during this time, it is a good sign that there may be a doe and a buck nearby, and they are likely to re-emerge in a few days.
Get Your Trophy Whitetail Buck or Doe at Stone Creek Ranch
While you may be looking for a whitetail buck during this year's rut, it's essential to pay close attention to the habits and rhythms of does. The activities of females strongly influence males during the rut, and they often lead bucks into the open, where hunters can take their shots.
There's no better place to hunt whitetail bucks than Stone Creek Ranch. Located in the heart of the Texas hill country, we offer the perfect environment for hunters to observe natural buck and doe behavior during the rut. And when the time is right, you can draw down the prime trophy for your mantle.