Whitetail Bucks Have Been On The Move

After an opening weekend in which many deer hunters reported not many deer moving, the rut seems to have kicked in, and bucks seem to be chasing does.

“It started about mid-week,” a friend of mine said.

He wasn’t hunting. But he lives in Duluth’s Kenwood neighborhood amid a healthy population of deer that he keeps close track of.

Duluth photographer and writer Michael Furtman noticed a buck in the brush outside his home the other day and hustled outside to see if he could get photographs of it. It was a beautiful buck, and he was able to get some nice shots of it. The reason? It was following a doe. Look for Furtman’s photographs of both animals on his Facebook page. Just go to Facebook and search “Michael Furtman.”

My son, who lives in Minneapolis, was running around Lake Calhoun a couple of nights ago in the dark. A nice buck was walking right down the sidewalk in the adjoining neighborhood, he said. I suspect the unabashed buck was on the trail of a doe, too.

Photographer Paul Sundberg also came across a nice buck last week when he was in the Twin Cities to make a presentation. He made a side trip to Fort Snelling State Park, where he saw the buck.

“He was in hot pursuit of a doe and didn’t seem to be concerned about me following him around,” Sundberg wrote. “I watched where the doe went and then circled in front of the buck and waited for him to follow the same route. In about fifteen minutes he stepped out into some dried flowers and gave me a great opportunity to snap a few photos.”

Sundberg posted a photo of the buck on his website, www.paulsundbergphotography.com. Look for it here.

I haven’t heard from many Minnesota deer hunters about their hunts over the past weekend. While I suspect the bucks may have been moving, Saturday would have been a nasty day to sit in a deer stand, with winds approaching 40 mph and hard rain at times.

Tom Rusch, area wildlife manager at Tower for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said last week that the rut, or deer mating season, is a very specific time in the North Woods. He called it a “tight rut” and said that it predictably peaks Nov. 6-12. Deer this far north have evolved to breed at that specific time, he said, so that fawns are born close to June 1. If they breed much earlier, and the fawns are born earlier, they can be caught by the tail end of the northern winter, threatening their survival. If the adults breed much later than early November, the fawns are born later, and they’re not as fully developed by the coming of the following winter.

In latitudes south of here, Rusch said, the whitetail mating season is not such a concentrated affair because the date that fawns are born is not so critical.