Whitetail Hunting photo

by Colin Moore

You might be the best shot in three counties and can hang a stand in three minutes, but that won’t help much during the rut if you’re clueless about whitetail breeding behavior. Test your knowledge with the following rut quiz. If you can answer all four questions correctly, go ahead and make room on your wall.

#1 – Breeder Bucks
Despite popular opinion, mature bucks do not do the vast majority of the breeding during the peak of the rut. Plenty of young bucks get in on the action, too. True or False?

#2 – Rut Timing
Although many hunters believe that the rut is triggered by a full moon in fall, the shortening of days (or changing photoperiod) is the major contributing factor.
True or False?

#3 – Deer Fidelity
Once a buck finds a receptive doe, the couple will remain monogamous until the doe is impregnated.
True or False?

#4 – Rut Duration
The whitetail rut lasts about 10 days. Latitude and longitude determine when the rut begins in a particular locale, but the duration is fairly consistent. True or False?

[1] True. According to a recent study presented at an annual meeting of the Southeastern Deer Study, during the peak of the rut bucks 31⁄2 years old and older bred 55 percent of does. Bucks 21⁄2 years old bred 21 percent, and 11⁄2-year-olds bred 14 percent. The remaining 10 percent were either unbred or the sires were unknown.

[2] True. Photoperiod is the main player. Although weather and the availability of does can play a role, studies conducted in northern states have concluded that the rut is not affected by lunar phase.

[3] False. Multiple matings between one doe and more than one buck are fairly common. Some “twins” are sired by different bucks. When you encounter a buck tending a doe, keep an eye out for satellite bucks.

[4] False. Although habitat quality can have an effect, the span of the rut is typically shorter in northern climes so that most fawns are born in early summer and have a better chance of surviving their first winter. In southern climes, where food is abundant year-round and fawn survival is not a major issue, the rut often extends over a longer period of time.