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Extreme Weather Ends Rut Behavior


CC image Flickr

Overall activity status: Since mid-week, sub-zero temperatures accompanied by high winds have kept both deer and hunter activity down across the region. Before the arctic front plunged the entire nation headfirst into winter, deer had been exhibiting classic post-rut behavior with does grouping up into winter herds and bucks moving into a solid feed-to-bed pattern. A few larger bucks had been seen locked onto does, but any chance of a significant secondary rut was probably squashed by the extreme cold weather.

Fighting: What little energy bucks have left is focused on survival rather than scrapping. I would be surprised to hear of any fighting, and instead, expect bucks to fall in bachelor or even mixed herds now.

Scrape Making: Any dormant scraps will stay that way, especially those in the northern Great Plains that are sitting under a layer of snow and ice.

Daytime movement: No surprisingly, daytime activity has actually been on the upswing lately. Overnight temperatures have dipped into the -20° region and winds have blown through the night, keeping deer hunkered down. The sun hasn't given much respite from the cold, but after moving at dawn, deer will get up to feed on and off throughout the day trying to keep their energy levels up in the face of winter.

Estrous signs: Other than a very few hot does reported, any signs of estrus are probably done for the year. Fawns are rejoining does as deer herd up for winter.

X-Factor: A warming trend will makes its way across the region starting Tuesday, offering the first break from sub-freezing temperatures in almost a week. That alone should get deer moving and I expect mid-week will offer the best opportunity to catch a buck as he moves from his bed to a high-protein food source. Personally, I'd find myself on the edge of a cornfield come Wednesday morning.

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