photo of mourning doves

Most northern hunters know that whitetail breeding activity peaks in mid-November, but a Pennsylvania study has discovered there are actually two distinct ruts. The age of the female deer in the population, it turns out, influences the timing.

“For years, we thought and reported that Pennsylvania’s rut peaked the week before Thanks-giving,” says Dr. Gary Alt, deer management supervisor for the state Game Commission. “That information was accurate, but it didn’t tell the whole story. The peak in breeding for adult females is mid-November, but for female fawns it occurs in early December.” About 90 percent of the adult does examined had conception dates ranging from October 27 to December 10; fawns, from November 5 to January 16.

Hunters, however, should not expect as much breeding activity during the “fawn rut.” There are fewer female fawns in a given population than adult does, and not all of them breed. –LAWRENCE PYNE