Entering the Rut

by Carl Strang

November brings the mating season for whitetail deer, also known as the rut. Hormones peak out and focus narrows down to the point of obliviousness to everything else. Drive carefully. Sunday was November 1, and I saw a sign that the rut already was under way. I was walking through the forest at St. James Farm Forest Preserve, and motion brought my attention to a doe. Her mouth was open, her ears down. I’ve seen those signs of harassment before.

The photo shows that the ears were directed behind her.

The photo shows that the ears were directed behind her.

Sure enough, a buck appeared in her wake soon after.

His antlers were freshly cleaned of velvet, his neck swelling.

His antlers were freshly cleaned of velvet, his neck swelling.

The doe stopped to feed and he did, too. When she moved on he did as well, maintaining a separation of around 50 yards. Neither deer showed any sign that they noticed me or heard the shutter clicks.

I am hopeful for good photo opportunities this month, especially of aggressive interactions among bucks.

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