Southwest Rut Report: Mature Mule Deer Beginning to Chase

Rut Report Image: Kerry Hargrove / Shutterstock

Rut signs on the rise in northern Colorado, slower down south

There’s nothing like watching a big rutting mule deer buck lip-curling and poking a doe in the rear with an antler tine. Each year we wait to see the first one and when you finally do, it changes everything. For me, it’s like Christmas morning every day after that; you never know what Santa is going to bring. 

It happened to me a couple days ago in northwest Colorado. A big, mature mule deer buck showed up out of nowhere in an area we have been watching very close. He came over a ridge pushing a doe, and acting like she was the only girl in the world. We killed him. The optimism in camp is now at an all-time high, particularly during a season that has been a struggle for many Colorado deer hunters. Most are still saying “no rut yet,” but a few are starting to see signs of change. 

Still, it’s far from all-out yet. The full moon isn’t helping anything in terms of daylight movement. My guess is the third rifle season is going to be pretty good, but time will tell. I’m hearing the same story across Utah and Nevada. A client of mine hunting the southern border of Wyoming watched a great buck have what he described as a “brutal fight” on the 26th, and he killed him on the 27th. That’s a good sign. In Utah, some great bucks have been killed, but up until the last few days, it hasn’t been because they are love stricken and letting their guard down. Earlier in the week I received a photo of an absolute stud buck from Utah that was “stuck to a doe” when they killed him. 

Heading south, things seem delayed a bit more. A good friend and outfitter in southern Colorado told me today that he has not had any sign of the rut yet. I’m hearing the same in New Mexico and Arizona, and on my lease in north-central Texas, it seems that we are still a few weeks away. The deer are still just being deer, and there have been no signs of change—but I expect it to happen around mid-November. 

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying Colorado. If I had to hunt one species for the rest of my life, it would be mule deer, and it would be during the rut. For me, Christmas is here. I wonder what presents will be under the tree tomorrow?

(Don’t Miss: You Wounded a Buck. Will He Come Back?)

Miles Fedinec is a well-recognized big-game authority. He’s been a western hunting guide, specializing in mule deer, elk, and antelope, his entire adult life. When he’s not living in a tent, he calls Craig, Colorado home.  

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Rubbing

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Scraping

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Fighting

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Seeking

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Chasing

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Breeding

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