First off, I appreciate everyone who took the time last week to send in reports of the rut activity (or lack thereof) in your area. It is always fascinating to me to see how sometimes-small regional variations can make a huge difference in the level of rutting behavior that hunters witness.
Here in the upper Midwest, we are brink of an explosion. For the most part, the full-bore chase phase has not begun. But the bucks–including some of the mature deer–are getting very active. They are on their feet, roaming their core areas, hitting rubs and scrapes and looking for that first estrous doe. My good friend Mitch Hagen was hunting in southern Iowa over the weekend and reported several large bucks “shadowing” does. This is a fascinating behavior to me; the doe is clearly not “in” yet, but the buck senses she is getting close. The buck does not dog her or chase her, but simply follows and keeps track of her movements.
Mature bucks are highly adept at noting the signs of a soon-to-be estrous doe. He’s been down the breeding path before and can recognize whatever signals she’s sending (Scent? Body posture? Vocalization?) that indicate the doe will soon be receptive. These experienced breeder bucks are like that lady’s man we’ve all known; they do not waste time on females that they know are a low-odds endeavor!
So the chase phase is soon to begin, and when it kicks in, things will get very, very exciting! Not always the best time to kill a big buck, but for sheer viewing pleasure, it is a phase of the season that’s tough to top! So what’s happening with you guys?
By the way, the buck in the photo above was taken recently in Kentucky, one of the true B&C hotspots of recent years. Shot by the young lady in the picture (rumored to be 14 years old), the ginormous whitetail is supposed to sport 26 scorable points and gross around 230″ B&C.