Signs of The Rut Have Begun for Deer Hunters
For bow hunters, the rut is the most exciting time to be in the woods, so if you are thinking of heading out, now is the time.
I had previously spent 18 years bow hunting in Indiana and being further south, the rut happens a little later there than it does here in Michigan.
For those who don't know what the rut is, this is when the biological clock of the male deer kicks in for mating season and the bucks go looking for doe's to mate with.
There is a whole process of how the deer communicate and often you can see the beginning signs of mating season in and around opening day but it usually kicks in three to four weeks into archery season.
Bucks will make what are called scrapes on the ground. This is where the paw out the ground and leave a urine scent to let other bucks know that this is their territory and to let does know they are here. Its like how they make their dates so to speak.
Does will use these scrapes and sometimes even make their own to let prospective bucks know they are looking to hook up. It's like club deer.
Bucks will rub their antlers on trees to mark their territory, they will rub their antlers in tangles hanging from trees. In the beginning phases you will see bucks lightly sparing with one another with their antlers. But when things get really rolling and does are in heat, those bucks sparring can and will turn into full on fights.
During this time bucks spend more time looking for lovers than they do eating and drinking. Which means those deer that have only been moving at night will start popping up during the day in hopes of finding a date.
Another sign you will notice and it's unfortunate, smaller bucks will start getting hit by cars. Many times they are driving out of an area from a mature buck protecting her young or bigger bucks force them out of the area then cars and trucks hit them.
What I have noticed in Michigan since returning almost three years ago is that the rut activity seems to start happening around October 20. Especially when you get down under 40 degree temperatures at night.
I get out of work a lot late at night and with the long drive home, I see a lot of night activity.
I don't believe we are in peak rut yet but the bucks are on the move so if you have been waiting to get in the woods, the wait is over.
Try to be out as much as you can until you get your deer or gun season starts. You can try using a drip bag over a mock scrape, set up a stand near some active scrapes but no matter what you do, be very mindful of the wind. Make sure you have the advantage when it comes to wind. Even though a big buck is girl crazy right now, his nose is still quite aware of his surroundings.
Good luck out in the woods because the party is on!