When bucks start acting weird, it is a good chance that the rutting season is in full swing. According to some local hunters, the fall rutting season has been somewhat delayed or jumbled up due to the unseasonably warm weather that has occurred for a long time in this area. Weather might play some small part in the rutting season but it will surely not delay it for too long. 


One sure sign that the rutting season has begun is through the actions of the buck deer. I reviewed the rut maps produced by the Georgia Outdoor News (GON) and also one produced by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (GWRD) and there are only slight differences in the two maps. Both indicated that the peak of the rut in this area and most surrounding counties will likely occur between Nov. 2 and the middle of November. 


Automobile and deer collisions occur throughout the year but increase significantly during the fall when deer are most active. Many deer/automobile collisions in the fall involve does and fawns but many will involve bucks during the rutting season. Drivers are more likely to see or litterly come in contact with a buck during the rutting season than at any other time of the year. 


I have seen several dead does already this early fall but no bucks so far with or without their antlers. Likely, some buck antlers obtained from an automobile collision are prominently displayed on someone’s wall at home with a complete but false story about how their buck was harvested in the normal hunting fashion.


Deer and car collisions increase during November and early December due to the rutting season. Webster’s dictionary defines the rut as the periodic sexual excitement, or heat, of certain mammals (including deer), applying especially to males during a period of time that occurs usually once a year. 


The deer rut may last over a period of two months but the peak of the rut is a period of time when a large number of does come into estrous or become ready to breed and that may only last one-three weeks. The local area is now in the midst of the rut and over the next two-three weeks, hunting will be excellent for buck deer.


The rut causes a big change in the buck’s behavior. During the rut’s peak, the bucks will travel all hours of the day in search of does ready to breed. A hunter’s opportunity to harvest a nice buck increases tremendously during this time. The seemingly very cautious buck loses his sense of caution and acts weirdly as he attempts to breed with receptive does. 


There are all sorts of theories about the impact of weather and moon phases on the rut but once the rut begins that buck could care less if the moon is full, if rain is falling, if the sun is shining or if it is day or night. The buck has one thing and only one thing on his mind and that is breeding a receptive doe.


Once breeding begins, scrapes and tree rub routes made by bucks that I have written about many times are not reliable indicators because the bucks will be spending more time just following does or searching for does on doe trails. Daytime buck activity will be very high as long as does remain in estrus or heat.


During the rut, some hunters rely on grunt calls while others use various commercial products that imitate the smell of a doe in heat. Other hunters who have studied the deer, have hunted for years and know the deer’s habits will simply conceal themselves in an area frequented by does and just wait for the buck to show up.


Just about every hunter can relate a story about the weird actions of a buck that he/she has observed during the rutting period. I have several myself and most include harvesting a buck simply because the buck had lost his sense of caution and did weird things. Caution goes out the window and bucks do weird things during the rut. 


An amateur deer hunter can harvest a buck during the rut but the true test of a hunter’s ability comes before and after the rut. If you want an easier opportunity to harvest a buck during this hunting season, you need to hunt during the rutting period that has already started in our area. Good hunting and see you next week.

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