Deer Rut: What It Is and How It Can Affect You This Time of the Year

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Deer “rut” is the period of time when deer breed. People often ask biologists when the rut is going to occur. It’s a question biologists commonly hear in the fall. Many hunters want to make sure that they plan hunting vacations to include that magical time when bucks lose all caution and deer are moving.

Timing of Rut Varies By Location

mating deer

Photo: Flickr/drburtoni

Texas Parks and Wildlife explains that the timing of whitetail rut varies by locations within the state. The earliest whitetail breeding in the state happens in the Gulf Prairies and Marshes, typically beginning in late August and lasting through November. The Hill Country typically sees deer rut beginning in October and lasting through January. The latest rut in the state takes place in the South Texas Plains, beginning in November through February.

Normally, when it’s mating season for most other animals, it doesn’t affect our lives much but with deer, rut can cause bucks to run out in front of cars on busy highways. Texas Parks and Wildlife says that, like most male mammals, deer seem to lose a lot of their natural caution when the scent of a receptive female is in the air.

According to the Insurance Journal, Texas leads all other states in motorist who have been killed in vehicle-animal collisions. Texas also has the largest deer population in the country. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says the state’s abundant wildlife and additional traffic have made Texas the most hazardous state for vehicle-animal crashes every year since 2000.

Watch For Deer This Time of the Year

deer road

Photo: Flickr/Starley Shelton

Several roadways in Texas are more dangerous than others, but Texas Parks and Wildlife officials say deer are moving into areas all over the state. In recent years in Kerr County alone, Texas Department of Transportation employees removed more than 1,500 dead deer off of the county’s roadways.

In Llano County, which calls itself the Deer Capital of Texas, deer hunting and traffic accidents involving deer both work their way into the economy. Eighty percent of the bodywork taking place at the Economy Body and Paint Shop in Llano involves repairing vehicles that have collided with deer.

Drivers Use Caution

Deer Rut

Photo: Flickr/Diann Bayes

Texas Department of Public Safety Sergeant Stephen Bynum in Lampasas said drivers should also be holding the steering wheel in a 10 and 2 position. “If you hit a deer, oftentimes, your airbag will deploy and I have seen numerous broken arms and broken noses where the driver was not holding onto the steering wheel properly.”

If you cannot avoid a head-on collision with a deer, Bynum advises that you hold onto your steering wheel tightly, driving straight forward and riding out whatever happens. “Trying to dodge a deer at a high rate of speed can result in a rollover and I’ve never seen the damage from hitting a deer as bad as a rollover,” Bynum said.