Do Does Change The Rut?

Gary W. from West Virginia writes to ask about the rut. "There are lots of deer in my area. Probably too many because we have lots of adult does for each adult buck. However, I don’t find that many scrapes, and the rut seems to last a long time with no real peak. Could the high density of deer cause that?"

Dr. Dave Samuel

The short answer is, “yes.” There are several explanations for this. First, when you have a high doe to buck ratio, the bucks do not need scrapes to find hot does. They cut hot doe tracks, via scent, everywhere. Cut a hot doe and follow her. Scrapes aren’t needed. Then, because you have high doe numbers, they do not all get bred that first major rut period. Thus, they recycle and get bred later. 

Finally, when you have lots of does, you have does in all age classes. With high deer density, research shows that young does breed later than older does. And it sounds like you have lots of young does. Either way, one solution is that you need to lower doe numbers to enhance your buck hunting.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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