Hunters often good-naturedly argue about the “DAY” that represents the peak of the white-tailed deer rut in Kansas. Conditions vary from year to year, but in my mind, the rut hits full stride on November 14. This year, I saw deer breeding take place twice on the 11th, and in my 41 years of deer hunting, November 11 is the most consistent “chase day” I’ve observed. After that, breeding continues in a flurry until about Thanksgiving week and then tapers off.
But it peaks in a smaller way a month later. Does that weren’t bred in November or earlier cycle every 28 days, and breeding can continue into January, particularly for some doe fawns breeding for the first time. So it was no surprise today when I saw a mature buck with a doe. It’s a month after mid-November, and timing is right for another small window of rutting activity.
The buck and doe were in an open field on a rainy afternoon, and when the doe decided to break for cover, the buck was right behind her. Non-rutting bucks will go their own way, but when following a doe, will race right through a busy roadway. I had an unusual opportunity to pan-film the running buck while someone else drove, and it’s easy to see the all-out will of the animal to stay with his potential mate.
The annual deer rut is one of nature’s grandest shows, providing some of the year’s best looks at trophy white-tailed deer. And because of the cyclical rut generally lasting from October through January in Kansas, it’s efficient: Texas research shows that deer pregnancy rates can exceed 90 percent under normal conditions, with lower success during periods of drought.