When is the rut on?
There are a few ways to test. One being whitetail buck aggression and another paying attention to fawn activity.
“Doe, fawn, fawn.” It’s a pretty common sequence when looking through trail camera pictures or hunting from August through February. But there is one period of time that you may be saying “fawn, fawn” or better yet “doe, BUCK!” That’s the rut. In many areas of the country the rut is just starting to get fired up with cooler weather rolling in. Scrapes and rubs are popping up everywhere, and mature bucks are becoming less nocturnal and starting to fight. In my situation, many of my “Hit List” bucks that were appearing on camera between midnight and 2 AM, started showing themselves just before daylight. Pretty soon these same bucks will be showing up during daylight, but only for a short period of time and paying attention to the fawns is one way to avoiding missing this rare opportunity.
From about 1 month old, fawns will frequently be by the side of their mother. As summer turns to fall, and spotted-coats turn solid brown, fawns, especially button bucks, will become more daring usually walking out ahead of the doe. Until now you will rarely see fawns alone unless the mother was killed (even though you may not see her, the doe is probably nearby). But as the rut begins, things take a big change. As a doe nears her estrous cycle, she will begin to push her fawns away temporarily. Although she may do this in a “motherly” manner, a buck trying to tend to her will not and may get physical with the fawns using front-leg kicks and even his antlers.
If you see fawns wondering around when you are in the stand, or on trail camera during this time of year, there is a chance their mother is about to or is in estrous (if she hasn’t been killed). Like identifying unique bucks on a property, I often identify unique family groups. Whether it is a doe with two button bucks or a doe with a single fawn, I try to identify these groups so that when I see one without the other I have a good idea something “rutty” may be occurring nearby. Although it isn’t foolproof by any means, any advantage can help. Paying attention to the details during a hunt or through trail camera pictures can be the difference between deer steaks or eating your buck tag!