Ask The Biologist

Jumping the Gun

Jumping the Gun

By Bob Humphrey

Early buck sign has Alabama hunters curious about the rut.

QUESTION: I am in northeast Alabama (Jackson County) and seeing very early signs of buck activity. We are seeing huge rubs and scrapes. We do not usually see this much buck sign until mid- to late-December. Does this indicate an early rut? – Mike P.

ANSWER: First it’s helpful to understand that the whitetail rut includes any and all activity associated with breeding. Essentially, the rut has started as soon as bucks begin scraping, signaling they are ready to breed. This could be as much as a month or two before peak breeding.

While most adult does will be bred during a fairly narrow window of 7-10 days, there are often outliers, does that come into heat well before and after peak breeding. If this happens, it could spark an early flurry of more intense rutting behavior among bucks. It’s also possible that the age structure in your area is improving and you may have one or more older bucks setting up their scrape lines earlier than you’ve seen in the past. Or maybe there’s just an over-achiever in the herd who wants to get a head start.

As to an early rut, I think you’ll find peak breeding will occur the same time as it always does.

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Copyright 2018 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd