Deer Hunters Can Boost Their Chances by Heading to the Woods During the Rut

November 3, 2017 - The 2017-18 white-tailed deer season opens statewide on Nov. 4, and judging from pre-season forecasts filed by area experts, the upcoming season looks to be a promising one across the East Texas region as the animals enter fall in good body condition with average to above average antler growth on bucks.

Early reports from archery and managed lands hunters indicate those predictions may be right on the mark. At least a half dozen bucks with gross "green" Boone and Crockett scores upwards of 157 have already been reported in eastern Texas.

The biggest thus far is a 179 inch open range 13 pointer taken on 77 acres in Polk County by Onalaska archer Blake Laviolette. The smallest is a 157 7/8 inch 14 pointer brought down in Nacogdoches County by Central Heights archer Jake Crisp.

One thing East Texas deer hunters will have working in their favor throughout much of November is the rut. The rut is natural phenomenon that occurs during the whitetail breeding season. It is a short-lived period of time when an otherwise wary buck might go on a testosterone high that causes it to act silly and make some really stupid mistakes it normally would not make.

I've been interviewing successful deer hunters for more than three decades now. My guess is more than 80 percent of the stories have involved a female.

Girls can make guys do funny things, indeed. But the scent of a receptive doe dancing in the air will get a whitetail buck killed.

Mature bucks are more prone to go on the prowl during the rut than at any other time of the season. When a dominant buck is not chasing on the heels of a hot doe, he is out looking for one.

A rut-crazed buck will travel for miles outside its home range in search of female company. And the natural tendency is to throw caution to the wind once he finds one. That's why hardcore hunters try to spend as much time in the woods as possible when the rut is in full swing.

An extensive breeding chronology study conducted during the 1990s by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department shows that the timing of the rut tends vary immensely from one geographic region to the next. In some cases the differences are so pronounced that the rut can be full blown in one region of the state, while bucks in a different setting are still running in bachelor groups.

In carrying out the study, biologists evaluated nearly 2,500 does from 16 different study areas over a three-year period. The data gathered enabled scientists to determine the general time frame for when the majority of whitetail breeding activity occurs from region to region, one year to the next.

The findings from the breeding chronology study have shown up here before. I thought it might be a good idea throw it out there again, since we're on the cusp of another deer season statewide and many hunters are still planning their calendars: 

Earliest Breeding Date: October 21
Latest Breeding Date: January 5
Peak Rut:
North Study Area: November 22
South Study Area: November 12

Post Oak Savannah
Earliest Breeding Date: September 30
Latest Breeding Date: January 16
Peak Rut:
Central Study Area: November 10
South Study Area: November 11

Gulf Praires and Marshes
Earliest Breeding Date: August 24
Latest Breeding Date: November 25
Peak Rut:
North Study Area: September 30
South Study Area: October 31

Rolling Plains
Earliest Breeding Date: October 8
Latest Breeding Data: December 30
Peak Rut:
North Study Area: December 3
South Study Area: November 20

Edwards Plateau
Earliest Breeding Date: October 9
Latest Breeding Date: January 30
Peak Rut:
East Study Area: November 7
Central Study Area: November 24
Western Study Area: December 5

Cross Timbers
Earliest Breeding Date: October 13
Latest Breeding Date: December 17
Peak Rut:
North Study Area: November 15
South Study Area: November 17

Earliest Breeding Date: November 4
Latest Breeding Date: January 4
Peak Rut: December 8

South Texas Plains
Earliest Breeding Date: November 9
Latest Breeding Date: February 1
Peak Rut:
East Study Area: December 16
West Study Area: December 24