Are bucks rutting in Central Texas? It is about that time, after all. As hunters prepare to head to the field this weekend for the opening of Texas’ general deer hunting season, white-tailed deer in the central part of the state have already begun their rutting activity. Cooler weather combined with the last week in October is a recipe to kick off the deer breeding season in the Hill Country and, yes, bucks are already chasing does!
As a matter of fact, I received a call from the northern part of the Hill Country last week that several white-tailed bucks were following does quite closely, just waiting for estrus to kick in. This information falls in line with some reports from Mills and San Saba Counties, too. The fresh, cold weather that has blown in recently has deer on the move and, hunters looking to take advantage of deer being up on their hooves. The rut is likely not “on,” but bucks are anticipating what is about to happen.
What Causes the Rut?
Photoperiod, day length, is the number one cue when it comes to rut, but weather can be a factor with regard to activity. In addition to decreasing photoperiod, the cold front that rolled through the Central Texas recently really put the deer on the move, so we know does are cycling into estrus. A number of biological and behavioral changes are dependent on photoperiod, but cooler weather always seems to put bucks on the move.
Research has shown that deer move more when the weather is colder, so this no doubt applies to the rut or breeding period, as well. And it makes complete sense that deer would move more during cooler weather because moving around builds up body heat. Too much heat leads to overheating and then it’s time to shut it down. Same for us.
Signs of the Rut
Over the last week, I’ve seen several white-tailed bucks that were road-killed — a sure sign that bucks are not thinking straight. Then Monday morning, I spotted two different bucks chasing does in Burnet County, in locations where I’ve rarely seen deer. Deer out of place, visible in the middle of the day are tell-tale signs the breeding season is upon us.
If you are planning on heading to the field, particularly Central Texas, this week to bag your buck be prepared to see some rutting activity and stay a little longer — because rutting deer can move any time of the day. A lot of good bucks have been harvested during mid-day. But if you don’t bag your buck during the early rut this weekend, don’t worry. The rut peaks on the eastern part of the Hill Country around November 10 and the Central and Western parts near November 30.