You should always be vigilant when you are driving a motor vehicle. And this time of year – with that time period starting in mid October and running through mid January – drivers of autos… well, make that bicycles as well – want to be on the lookout for female deer (does) in a sprint, with a large male deer (bucks) in pursuit.
We are now in rutting season – with deer “in the rut.” The rutting season – aka mating season- in New England for deer begins about mid October and lasts for up to three months.
This is all about hormones and sex, of course – and the propagation and continuance of the species.
During the rut, female deer bodies undergo episodes in which they are particularly hospitable to becoming pregnant – with the condition called estrus – with estrus cycles lasting in the neighborhood of 72 hours, and with a doe capable of undergoing of up to seven estrus episodes during the rutting season if not yet pregnant.
Bucks undergo hormonal change as well, which have them itching with biological inspiration and urging to mate.
While deer in warm climates mate all year – this isn’t the case in colder climates, because the hardwiring of deer in these parts has evolved so that female deer, which are pregnant, on the average, for 190 days, deliver their babies (fawns) in the spring and summer, when, compared against the cold months, food is more abundant, and weather provides young deer a better chance for survival.
Kurt Upham, founder and President of ohDEER – the leader in all natural deer, mosquito, and tick control – is a deer expert.
“Bucks are able to mate throughout the year, but the does have a limited time frame to get pregnant,” said Kurt. “During the rut, bucks are out there rubbing the antlers against trees, making rub marks- and also marking the trees with urine – leaving a scent. Does evaluate the rubs and detect the scent, and will figure on the health and suitability of the buck from the rubbing – with marks high on a tree telling a doe that the buck who made them is a good mating partner.”
As Kurt explained, rutting season is a time in which deer are at their most active – with most of that increased activity owed to mating.
“Bucks have one thing on their mind – and that is finding a doe and mating with her. In fact, during rutting season, a buck will travel a few miles a day in search of a doe – and for the entire rutting season, may lose 30 to 40 percent of his weight due to its extensive traveling. Now, does want to mate, as well, for sure – but when they are in full estrus. A buck doesn’t care much if the doe is in full estrus – and he will go after her whether she is or not. If she isn’t in full estrus, the doe will probably take off, and the buck will go right after her. Deer don’t think much about cars, anyway, and, for a doe running from a buck, getting away from the buck is the only thing on her mind – and as for the buck, he is only thinking about catching up to the doe. And this is why cars and deer meet up with a lot more frequency during rutting season than at other times of the year.”
And when deer and autos collide, it is always bad for the deer -and frequently can be bad …very bad …for the body of the vehicle involved – and sometimes the collision can result in injury to occupants of the auto.
So, again, be vigilant – and be careful.
Be in the watch for the doe – and then on the lookout for the buck.