The Rut Is On For White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are in the middle of the rut right now. It is a great time of year to see a mature buck like this one.

White-tailed deer are in the middle of the rut right now. It is a great time of year to see a mature buck like this one.

White-tailed deer sightings in our area are quite common. Southwestern Ontario has a rather large population and with not a lot of natural predators, their numbers are on the rise. Deer can be found in every Environmentally Significant Area in the city as well as many parks and cemeteries. This time of year is a special time for the deer as it what is called the rut or simply mating season.

Bucks have only one thing on their minds at this time of year, and that is finding as many does as they can. This makes them much more active and less cautious then usual so an encounter with one is much greater. Keep this in mind when driving in the dark as these bucks travel many kilometers in search of does and collisions with cars increase at this time of year.

During this rutting period bucks will mark their territory by rubbing their antlers on trees and making scrapes on the ground with their hooves.  These are excellent indications that a buck in the area so keep an out for these signs if you are wishing to encounter a mature buck. Watching a buck chase a group of does is quite a sight to see. Seeing two bucks lock antlers and fight over a territory is even more impressive. The best times to view this activity is at first and last light of the day as bucks are most active at night.

I like to head out first thing in the morning just as the sun is coming up and get into a location to photograph these animals. Morning works best for me because I find the animals are already out and there is less human activity than in the evening. I like to position myself on the edge of an open field where I know there are good numbers of deer. Keep in mind that a deer’s sense of smell is incredible, so position yourself downwind to avoid alerting the deer to you presence. Remember to keep still and quiet and you will likely be rewarded by witnessing some of the deer’s rutting behavior first hand.

Good birding,
Paul

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