Is There a Peak of the Rut? #Rut #Whitetails #DeerHunting

Lots of new or freshly renewed ground scrapes late in October do not signify a so-called “Peak of the Rut” is in progress. It only means cooler weather has finally caused highly aroused antlered bucks with new winter fur to begin a frenzy of marking individual breeding ranges. Does are not yet in heat at this time.

Each fall and early winter whitetails breed during three separate, two-week-long time periods. Estrus (heat) in does is triggered during these periods by a specific ratio of darkness to light (photoperiodism), occurring on the same exact dates in any one region annually. The first period generally occurs in November throughout the U.S. Some differences are seen in parts of Texas and Florida where this period occurs in October. The onset of each breeding period is progressively somewhat later from North to south in the U.S. In northern Minnesota where I hunt and study whitetails, breeding begins November 3rd annually.

At best, only about 10–12% of does are in heat on any one day throughout the two-week November breeding period, meaning, depending on deer densities only 1–2 of the usual 8-12 does capable of producing young per square-mile will be in heat on any one day (more in areas in which whitetails are over-populated or forced to congregate in remaining cover after deer-tall crops such as corn are harvested). Each doe will only be in heat 24-26 hours. During some days during this period, no does will be in heat within a specific square-mile. There should be little wonder, then, why it is so difficult to predict locations of mature breeding bucks while does are in heat.

Does not bred in November (about 15% for various reasons) will experience estrus again 28 days later and 28 days later again if still not bred, accounting for the second and third periods of annual breeding. In my Northern Minnesota study area, the second period of breeding begins December 1st. The third period begins December 28th, meaning, some breeding actually occurs well into January. My wife Jene and I have known and photographed several does that were always in heat on New Years Day.

The 85% of does bred during November give birth to 1–2 young in May. The 10% of does bred in December bear young in June. The remaining 5% bred in January and give birth to young in July (providing a means of determining which were bred during which time period).

“All of the above reveals there is no peak of the rut.” Just add the widespread notion there is one to the list of many strange beliefs American deer hunters continue to have about the whitetail rut (future blog posts).

Delisting of Grey Wolves in Minnesota

The following is a copy of a letter I received from Minnesota’s U.S, Senator, Amy Klobuchar in response to a request I sent to her, asking her not to oppose a bill that would delist Minnesota’s grey wolves from the Endangered Species list and explaining why. The amount of information a U. S. Senator must know to preform her duties is incredible, but as you can see from this letter, Senator Klobuchar is even well versed on this matter. It is good to know Minnesota’s enormous number of outdoor enthusiasts are well represented in Washington, D.C.


April 11, 2016

Dear Dr. Nordberg:

Thank you for contacting me about Minnesota’s gray wolf population. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue.

As required by the Endangered Species Act, in 1978 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established a population goal of 1,250 to 1,400 wolves for the state of Minnesota to ensure the population’s long-term survival. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the most recent estimates of Minnesota’s wolf population indicate that there are approximately 2,423 wolves in the state.

This increase in the wolf population provides strong evidence that the Endangered Species Act has been successful and the gray wolf should be delisted. The Endangered Species Act is a tool that has helped bring numerous species back from the brink of extinction by protecting them until they can maintain a stable and viable population. While I support the Endangered Species Act, I do not believe its provisions and regulations are suited for the permanent protection of a recovering species.

That is why I sent a letter in 2010 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting a scientific review of Minnesota’s wolf population to determine if a new designation is needed, and if appropriate, to remove the wolf from the list of endangered species. On January 27, 2012, gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan were removed from the list of endangered and threatened species and with the support of wildlife groups, the federal government transferred responsibility for wolf management to the states and tribes.

After the federal decision was made, a number of groups chose not to litigate this matter any further in court. But some groups did and as a result the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reversed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 delisting and limited the ability of the State of Minnesota to manage the wolf population. The litigation and the resulting decision have created uncertainty for many in our state and it has interrupted management of the species by state and federal wildlife agencies. I believe the decision should be reversed.

I have urged the Interior Department to take action to ensure that the State of Minnesota can continue to successfully manage its gray wolf population. I am confident that the Endangered Species Act has served its purpose in protecting the gray wolf and that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is capable of managing the population. That’s why on March 28, 2015 the National Wildlife Federation made official its support for delisting the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan with management authority returning to those states. As we continue to see the number of wolves we are seeing today, I will continue to advocate for delisting.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I continue to be humbled to be your Senator, and one of the most important parts of my job is listening to the people of Minnesota.  I am here in our nation’s capital to do the public’s business. I hope you will contact me again about matters of concern to you.


Amy Klobuchar

United States Senator