I have been working way to much this year but friends from around the country sure make it seem like another year of slow rut activity.
What is your opinion? Great, Average or Slow?
I think a lot of 'seeing' rutting activity has to do with where you are and where the deer are. That simple. You're on one side of the property, the deer are on the other, no matter if it's 20 acres or 2000 acres.
Every year this comes up and it's almost always the same. A portion are and a portion are not seeing rutting activity. I think, many times, it's as simple as being in the right stand at the right time. They're rutting, that's a fact.
Has it ever or never dawned on anybody that rut went on, right on schedule, just as it always has? What changed is what you saw or see and that is due to only four factors. (1) Were you in the right place at the right time? (2) Weather. (3) Temperature. (4) Sex ratio.
The sex ratio will affect the visual aspect and the competition. Closer equality-more competition-more visual impact for the observer. Has nothing to do with when it peaks.
The temperature is by far the biggest factor in what you see. Hot weather=more nocturnal activity=you see less and say, "The rut has been slow this year." or something to that affect.
Weather, as in rain, snow or high winds=less daylight chasing and that is what most hunters equate with "the rut". That, however, is just one phase of the rut. That phase may be drawn out for several days, be what hunters assume to be "normal" or may be compressed.
Temperature is by far the biggest factor in what hunters see. And probably 98.9% of the hunters equate what they see with what is actually happening. Always a bad equation.
Finally, if you are not in the right place at the right time, you may well assume there is no rut this year.
Here are some plain, hard,biologically sound facts: For at least, the last 100 years, the rut has been basically, at the same time every years, give or take a week to maybe 10-days. Mother Nature decided when her does should get bred. That was based on what the weather should be like when her does fawned and what food sources would be available. She did not even think about the moon or the weather when she had her does get bred and she did not give hunters any thought. The rut, all phases of it, remain basically unchanged. The only thing that changes is what hunters see. And when hunters equate what they see with what is actually happening, myths abound.
Some years, second and third phases of the rut become more noticeable. As more fawns reach the 7-8 month plateau, more of them cycle for the first time and hunters see more rutting activity, approximately 28 or 56 days after the peak of the rut. But, the does get bred...every year and within a week-give or take-they get bred at the same time every year. The rut "peaks", that period when 50% or more does get bred, within about a week at the same time every year. The only thing that changes is what the hunter sees.
Of course, this year, all those highly overpaid football players, kneeling during the National Anthem, has caused many bucks to decide not to participate in the rut, at all. Sooner or later, that myth will show up somewhere.
Most state wildlife agencies do fetal studies. They know when the rut peaks. If you contact them, they will usually share that with you. Then, you can quit asking, when do I take my vacation? When is the rut going to peak this year? And you can save a lot of money on Moon Guides. Yes...it is that simple.
Here is one factoid for you to consider. In Alabama, and some other states, the rut may peak at three, distinctly different times from early November to late January and early February. In the same state and under the same moon and close to the same temperatures. There is a very sound biological reason for this. Y'all reckon what that is?
In all probability, those does are already bred. When the buck-doe ratio is badly out balance, obviously there is less chasing required due to low competition. However, prior to the season, it is hard to have a ratio of more than 4 does to one buck. It may just look that way. If you see six or eight does to every buck, that does NOT mean your ratio at that level. What you see, is seldom, what you have.