Rut question

Bone Collector

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These are phenomenally good observations Bone Collector. Are you hunting near Murfreesboro? I ask because that region wasn't hit as hard by the drought as West TN. In western Middle TN (the ridge-and-hollow hardwoods of the Highland Rim), acorns are a major player in deer health and behavior. Because of the drought, almost the entire acorn crop was lost and deer are acting "strangely" because of that loss of their highest quality fall food source. I've gotten hundreds of reports from the region of what appears to be a delayed rut or trickle rut, and lack of older bucks on camera. This sounds an awful lot like what you're describing, but I wouldn't think the Murfreesboro area would be experiencing the same thing.
Yes, I am near Murfreesboro, but the drought hit that area. Rain is so funny in this state, because on my side of Murfreesboro (Blackman) it rained some, but on the side where my land is (out towards Readyville) hardly any. As a result, my food plots were pretty much failures. Also none of my "regular" white or red oaks had acorns... HOWEVER I have a type of white oak as does everyone in the area that you cannot see the small acorns on the tree early and they drop later in the year. That oak is the Post Oak. They are all over my land and the land that surrounds me. They were more spotty this year, but they did produce and they have been dropping, but this happens every year and it always seems to be a bumper crop in normal years, so it is less this year. I have also wondered about the weird weather we had early on and wondered if it just screwed things up this year.
 

BSK

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HOWEVER I have a type of white oak as does everyone in the area that you cannot see the small acorns on the tree early and they drop later in the year. That oak is the Post Oak. They are all over my land and the land that surrounds me. They were more spotty this year, but they did produce and they have been dropping, but this happens every year and it always seems to be a bumper crop in normal years, so it is less this year.
How interesting. We have Post Oaks in my area, but historically they are very poor producers. They only produce a decent crop about once every 5 years. Must be localized conditions or soil type.

I have also wondered about the weird weather we had early on and wondered if it just screwed things up this year.
Weather doesn't affect the rut timing, just daylight activity. In hot, dry weather the rut still takes place at the regular time, but most of the activity is at night.

Again, individual animal health is a major player in estrus timing in the Southeast. Healthy does will enter estrus earlier than unhealthy does. Sign-making by bucks is also driven by individual animal health. Very healthy bucks make much more sign (rubs and scrapes) than less healthy bucks. Many years ago, I ran a decade-long rub density study. We sample surveyed our property using randomized transit lines laid out across the landscape. Each year for a decade we would walk those lines after the season was over and record every rub within 10 meters either side of that line (creating long 20-meter-wide sampling sites). From this field data, we could calculate all sorts of interesting information, including over-all rub densities. After a bumper acorn year, we would find rub densities around 600 rubs per square mile, which is about 1 rub per acre. This year, with the complete acorn failure, I've found a grand total of 6 rubs on 500 acres. In a normal year, there would be hundreds of rubs.
 

Bone Collector

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How interesting. We have Post Oaks in my area, but historically they are very poor producers. They only produce a decent crop about once every 5 years. Must be localized conditions or soil type.
I think that is what they are called. They have real tiny acorns. I have bitten into one and it didn't taste bitter to me. Leaves are white oak type leaves (more rounded at the edges). Yeah soil sucks where I am. clay loam, add 2 tons of lime if you want to plant, but honestly soil isn't good in most of the state.
Mine produce annually. When the leaves come off, then I can see them up there. Tons of them. I have hunted the properties that surround mine before ownership changed. They are there too and do the same thing.
 

BSK

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How interesting. Our Post Oaks drop at the same time as our White Oaks. Basically, mid-October, unless there are no cold snaps, then they can hold on until early November.
 

megalomaniac

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Regarding breeding timing being unchanged on my places, numbers of rubs and scrapes along with their timing was also unchanged this year compared to years past
 

Lost Lake

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It’s just weird, as I’ve heard how it’s been a struggle on the Western Highland Rim. Everything seems to be on time on our place in eastern Henry county.
 

Gravey

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Drove to Mississippi yesterday and was on the Natchez Trace Parkway maybe a mile from the Alabama state line. Saw a doe running toward the road so I slowed down knowing she was gonna bolt across. She did and right behind her was a big wide rack buck. Not sure how many points but as he got to the road and saw me he turned around and hauled butt back to the woods. Really surprised me that he didn’t stay on her tail and maybe after I passed he did.
 

AT Hiker

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Regarding breeding timing being unchanged on my places, numbers of rubs and scrapes along with their timing was also unchanged this year compared to years past
You may have mentioned it but how was the acorn crop?

Also, our farm in NW Dickson County had a off year this year. Total mast failure and the start of Nov was dead. Thanksgiving hit and activity exploded; chasing, rubs and daylight buck movement. Between me, my friend and grandmother we have seen the same buck pestering doe groups for a week now. He was locked down with a doe Monday morning close to my grandmothers house and she seen him again this morning with a group of 6 does.

In my 30 years of hunting and on/off living on this farm, I have never seen activity like this so late in Nov and start of Dec. Usually, end of Oct things start to kick into gear and by second weekend of mzl its dying down then by rifle opener its practically dead and completely dead after thanksgiving (mainly due to hunter pressure). Not this year, its like the last week of Oct and first two weeks of Nov were skipped.

Similar experience in KY and SW Montgomery Co. as well. Also, out of the 17 people I talked to that killed mature deer in early to mid Nov none of them experienced typically rutting activity. Most bucks were killed on the edge of thickets and alone.
 

TNTreeman

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Tuesday in the bad weather I saw tons of deer, some mature bucks, but no interest in the does that were present. Yesterday only 5 does and 1 lone young buck, he came out and grazed rignt along with the 5. I’m going to hit the thickest , nastiest area today that I can on the edge of the fields .
 

philsanchez76

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I think that is what they are called. They have real tiny acorns. I have bitten into one and it didn't taste bitter to me. Leaves are white oak type leaves (more rounded at the edges). Yeah soil sucks where I am. clay loam, add 2 tons of lime if you want to plant, but honestly soil isn't good in most of the state.
Mine produce annually. When the leaves come off, then I can see them up there. Tons of them. I have hunted the properties that surround mine before ownership changed. They are there too and do the same thing.
Interesting about the post oaks. I hunt in Rutherford county as well and apart from a few red oaks here and there the only hot trees I found all year were shingle oaks. Had never heard of em before this year. Thousands of tiny acorns under them. They’ve been deer magnets. The leaves are nothing like normal oak shaped leaves (white or red).
395CD9E7-FEEC-488A-943D-E9097BC85D6E.jpeg
 

RockMcL

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If they're on does today then you need to be there right away! Good luck and post pics when one of your boys get one down!
Neighbor put down a good 4 1/2 yr crab claw 8 today. Pretty sure buck was behind my gas tank at about 0530 this morning...
 

Ski

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Neighbor put down a good 4 1/2 yr crab claw 8 today. Pretty sure buck was behind my gas tank at about 0530 this morning...

Dang! Well that sucks, but congrats to your neighbor on a good buck. Was it one of the big ones you had seen the last day or two?
 

RockMcL

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Dang! Well that sucks, but congrats to your neighbor on a good buck. Was it one of the big ones you had seen the last day or two?
He is a good guy and new landowner/whitetail hunter. It is a good thing. Anyway, at least three bigger bucks out there.

I am positive I shot the bucks great grandfather in 2019. Very close crab claw rack.
 

BSK

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Also, our farm in NW Dickson County had a off year this year. Total mast failure and the start of Nov was dead. Thanksgiving hit and activity exploded; chasing, rubs and daylight buck movement. Between me, my friend and grandmother we have seen the same buck pestering doe groups for a week now. He was locked down with a doe Monday morning close to my grandmothers house and she seen him again this morning with a group of 6 does.

In my 30 years of hunting and on/off living on this farm, I have never seen activity like this so late in Nov and start of Dec. Usually, end of Oct things start to kick into gear and by second weekend of mzl its dying down then by rifle opener its practically dead and completely dead after thanksgiving (mainly due to hunter pressure). Not this year, its like the last week of Oct and first two weeks of Nov were skipped.
This is exactly what I'm seeing and hearing from clients in the Humphreys, Perry, Hickman, Dickson and Cheatham county areas. However, a client I have right across KY Lake from me in Decatur County did not see this at all. However, they had acorns in the bottomlands along the lake. Very normal rut timing for them, albeit concentrated in the bottoms. The uplands saw little rut activity with few rubs/scrapes.
 

BSK

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I've talked over and over about how big acorn crops affect sign-making intensity and timing in hardwood environments. To graphically display this, below I took the graph I posted early about normal poor-acorn year scrape visits by older bucks and added the average data from good acorn years. Notice how much earlier and more intense the amount of scraping is in a good acorn year. Breeding timing is exactly the same between good and poor years (on average) but scraping begins much earlier in a good acorn year and is far more intense. And now we have 2022, which is not only a very poor acorn year, but a severe drought year. Only time will tell if the entire "poor acorn year" data is shifted a week or two later in 2022 due to the drought.
 

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megalomaniac

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You may have mentioned it but how was the acorn crop?

Also, our farm in NW Dickson County had a off year this year. Total mast failure and the start of Nov was dead. Thanksgiving hit and activity exploded; chasing, rubs and daylight buck movement. Between me, my friend and grandmother we have seen the same buck pestering doe groups for a week now. He was locked down with a doe Monday morning close to my grandmothers house and she seen him again this morning with a group of 6 does.

In my 30 years of hunting and on/off living on this farm, I have never seen activity like this so late in Nov and start of Dec. Usually, end of Oct things start to kick into gear and by second weekend of mzl its dying down then by rifle opener its practically dead and completely dead after thanksgiving (mainly due to hunter pressure). Not this year, its like the last week of Oct and first two weeks of Nov were skipped.

Similar experience in KY and SW Montgomery Co. as well. Also, out of the 17 people I talked to that killed mature deer in early to mid Nov none of them experienced typically rutting activity. Most bucks were killed on the edge of thickets and alone.
Very few acorns this year.

Now that being said, although the start of the rut was no different than years past, I can't really say about what had happened at the tail end of the rut. We shut my places down on Nov 25th, not to be hunted again until Dec 17th. They may be still rutting like crazy right now (which would be unusual this late), be we won't be privy to it until I pull cameras when I come back up in 2.5 weeks.

I fully expected rut to be delayed this year... but it wasn't. Deer we killed did not have an excessive amount of fat on them, just a normal amount... but my deer feed all summer long on ag fields, an those fields seemed.to do just fine with the reduced but evenly spaced rains during the summer.

Im.working with one of the farmers for next year... converting 3 fields totalling 100ac from fescue to summer beans with winter wheat crops... with me reserving 3 plots of 2ac each for brassicas next year. This will be the most year round food ive ever had for the wildlife. Its about time for me to have a forester come in and get ready for another timber cutting (last done 1992). Just need to find the right one willing to cut the timber in a patchwork with mixed clearcut with select cut.


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