The 2nd Rut: How Good Is It?

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Robert Hoague
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Looking back many years I could not thank enough the men that took me and my buddies Tommy Denson and Hugh Carroll bowhunting with them for the first, and many more, times. They sure opened my eyes to something that became a life long heartfelt passion.

I doted on the mens every word as they freely gave their advice to us. I didn’t know anything. And to me, they knew it all.

And as the years passed I met lots of deerhunters who also had plenty of advice and information. All the while, things would happen in the deer woods that were different than I’d heard about. And, noticing that, I started playing off what I saw and learned, more often than what what I’d been told.

In the mid 80′s I figured I’d put things together pretty good and was a knowledgeable deer hunter (that hunted exclusively with my bow and arrow). Then, in 1987 I made a casual decision that turned out to be pivotal for what I knew about deer and deerhunting with a bow. I bowhunted the same area I’d been hunting for several years … for all of October, November and December.

I learned a lot, but the thing that struck me most was that much of the information hunters had shared with me, to help me out, were kind of like “old wives tales” sort of things. They were  either incorrect or incomplete snap shots of a particular deer activity.

Nobody had tried to mislead me. I want you to know that, every single person was being helpful and I totally appreciated it. That said, one common thread stretched through their deer and bowhunting info. They were weekend hunters and sometimes they hunted for several days of their vacation time. Their information came from other hunters … and their own totally random experiences.

Now to sum this up short and sweet, after hunting deer every day for 3 months, I was reading out of a very different book of deer  knowledge. And what I’m gonna talk about today is my discovery of the 2nd rut and what I’ve learned about it.

What Is The 2nd Rut?

Every deerhunter knows about the “whitetail Peak Rut”. Depending on how far north or south you live can be in November or December and in far south Texas in January. Not all the does will be bred. So the does that were not bred will come back into estrus in 24 to 28 days. This second estrus cycle is called the Second Rut.

Who Is Involved In The 2nd Rut?

The does that were not mated and bred during the initial Rutting period will be in the 2nd Rut.

Obviously the Bucks will too, that’s a given. But, in my experience, there is something quite different about the bucks involved in the 2nd Rut. (I’ll come back to this.)

Ok, TAAA DAAA, I have some big news.

But first, year’s back I read an article by a famous deer hunter in Field & Stream magazine. Mr. Famous asked, “When do does first come into estrus?” His”expert” answer was at 2 1/2 years of age.

He didn’t have a clue.

Onward … back to Taaa Daaa. , Here is the real story. Some does come into estrus earlier or later than the Peak Rut. So some fawns are dropped as early as the April wild turkey seasons. (The whitetail gestation period is 6 1/2 months.)

Some of the early fawns will be 6 or 7 months old in December. And many of them will come into estrus. I googled to find some scientific data supporting this but could not. But I’m telling you I know this, from experience, for a sure and certain fact.

So the number of does that are in the deer woods during the 2nd Rut is larger than just the unbred does.


Here is a early born fawn doe in estrus with the mature buck that stayed with her for at least the 2 days that I saw them together the last week of this December.

The way I see it is this:

During the 2nd Rut there are fewer does in the mix than the Peak Rut. But having the older fawns in the mix increases the number of estrus does afield.

The fewer the number of does that are in estrus the smaller your chances are to see one with a buck. However, if there are new does mixed in your chances improve dramatically. And there are new does.

There are also fewer hunters and the pressure is less too. And there is more movement during daylight hours than during the rut (when the maximum number of deerhunters are hunting).

In short, when you bowhunt the 2nd Rut you are in a situation where you have an opportunity to harvest a buck, or a doe if you want.

It’s time to talk about bucks.  

In my experience, there are some major differences with buck activity during the 2nd Rut. Lets go into that next…


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