X Factor: One of the best things about being a Rut Reporter is that it creates a week-by-week journal of deer season activity. After a few years, trends emerge that are easy to confirm simply by reading through old posts. One trend I'm seeing this year is the potential for an early rut. Chris Ryan with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has been telling me for years that a heavy mast crop puts does in prime condition, and that often leads to earlier peak breeding. Last year, we nearly had a mast failure, and the best rut activity seemed to be in mid-November—a couple weeks later than normal—as a result.