Southwest Rut Report: Mule Deer Rut Winding Down in Places

Rut Report Image: Tom Reichner / Shutterstock Tietz / Shutterstock

The action is waning in northwest Colorado but still going strong farther south

I’m sitting on a hillside writing this on my phone. As I do, I’m glassing four small bucks trying to court one doe. None of the bucks are mature. Over the last few days I’ve noticed a change in the mature bucks. They are still rutting, but they seem to be sticking with a single doe until they accomplish the deed, rather than hanging out in the herds. Yesterday I watched a buck come out of nowhere, pick a doe out of a herd, and run her into some thick oak brush. I was lucky to catch a glimpse of him. He was mature, and we probably would’ve shot him had he stayed in the open for another minute or two.

I haven’t seen a mature buck with a herd in a few days. This morning I saw a group of nine does without a buck at all. Above them a half mile or so was a 3-year-old with one doe, and he wasn’t letting her out of his sight. This leads me to believe that much of the breeding has already been done, and we are on the back side of the rut where I am hunting in northwest Colorado. 

Southern and eastern Colorado seem to be slightly behind us, with good rut activity still happening. A good friend of mine who outfits in eastern Colorado has been knocking down some exceptional bucks lately, and he attributes it to them staying out longer and bedding with a hot doe, which usually gives them away at some point during the day. 

Northern Utah and Nevada are both somewhere in this rut mix as well. It’s peaking or just on the back side, according to my sources. I have mixed reports in southern Utah, from “It just started” to “It’s peaking right now.” 

The Kaibab in Arizona is getting going and should be prime very soon. As I’ve stated in prior reports, southern Arizona and New Mexico are still a few weeks out. You could see some rubbing and scraping activity in some areas, but I wouldn’t plan on seeing any real rut for a couple more weeks. The whitetails and mule deer in northern New Mexico should be going pretty good by now. 

Whitetails are rutting in North Texas. I have a lease in north-central Texas and according to my trail cameras and reports of other hunters, now would be a great time to be there. Bucks have started chasing. Unfortunately I am a few weeks away from being able to get there. Maybe I will get lucky and catch the tail end.

The Hill Country still shows some rut signs, but it is winding down some. South Texas is just starting to show signs. We’ve been seeing scrapes and rubs, but the first real signs were reported to me yesterday. I would look for the South Texas rut to get started in the next week or two. The first two weeks of December will likely be a great time to be down there. 

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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.  

Day Activity

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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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