The Chasing Phase of the Whitetail Rut

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It Doesn't Get Any More Exciting Than This Time of Year

24-7 Scrapes

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1 | 24-7 Scrapes

During a hectic few days, bucks cruise their home range 24-7, rubbing trees and making scrapes as they frantically search for the first estrous does

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Survive and Breed

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2 | Survive and Breed

For a buck, attitude rules the day, and nearly every encounter with other bucks turns into a confrontation. A buck's goal during the rut is to both survive and gain the right to do as much breeding as possible.

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The Rut Can Take Its Toll

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3 | The Rut Can Take Its Toll

Unfortunately, the stress placed on bucks during the rut can be costly. If competition is high, it's not uncommon for dominant bucks to lose up to 20 percent of their pre-rut body weight.

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No Doe Is Safe

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4 | No Doe Is Safe

The rut is not a pleasant time for does either. No doe is safe during the peak of the rut, and it's not uncommon for does to be gored by aggressive bucks. Only when they enter estrous will does tolerate a buck's presence.  

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Home Range Scrapes

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5 | Home Range Scrapes

In the days leading up to the breeding period, bucks make numerous scrapes in their home range to leave scent. This is one way bucks alert all deer in the area of their presence. 

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The Rub

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6 | The Rub

Rubbing behavior intensifies when the rut boils over. Both bucks and does smell rubs to determine which deer has left its scent on the rub. More than one buck will work the same rub, and does will often smell and rub their foreheads on the rubs they encounter.

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The Lip Curl

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7 | The Lip Curl

All bucks aggressively hunt for doe urine while cruising their home range. Whenever a buck encounters fresh urine, it will smell the urine and then curl its lips. By trapping the urine's odor in its nose, it is thought that bucks can decipher if the doe is in estrous. 

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Fatal Fights

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8 | Fatal Fights

Fighting between bucks is common throughout the rut, with some fights resulting in death to one or both of the combatants. When a big buck impales another buck, as shown by the blood on the buck's tines in this photo, death usually follows.

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Chase Encounters

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9 | Chase Encounters

Does are very vulnerable in the week leading up to peak breeding. During this time, nearly every encounter a doe has with a buck turns into a chase.

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24-Hour Estrous

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10 | 24-Hour Estrous

When a doe cycles into estrous, which only lasts 24 hours, she will allow a buck to breed her five or more times. If competition to breed a doe is heavy, the dominant buck will likely have to chase off all comers and in some cases fight for the right to breed the doe. 

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Few things energize deer hunters quite like the behavior bucks exhibit during the heat of the rut. Witness the chaos in these 10 great photos of the chase phase of the rut.

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