QUESTION: Bob, how long will does stay in heat? - Deanna H.
ANSWER: Like bucks, the reproductive cycle of a doe is triggered by photoperiodism, which is the change in length-of-day.
As the days grow shorter, concentrations of hormones begin to rise in a fairly complex physiological process.
The hormones rise slowly at first, peaking at or near the day of estrus, which lasts about 24 hours.
When she is in this state, the doe will be a magnet for any buck in the vicinity that encounters her, or the scent she's left behind. That's why a particular stand can suddenly become red hot for a day or two.
If a doe conceives, further physiological changes occur that prevent her from coming into estrus again.
If she fails to become pregnant, she will enter estrus again 21 to 30 days later. This pattern continues until the doe is eventually bred.
Though rare, it has been recorded as occurring up to seven times before the doe stops cycling and enters a state called anestrus, where she will not cycle again until the following fall.
Radio and GPS telemetry studies have shown that during peak rut, both bucks and does sometimes make excursions well outside their core areas.
They move to a new area, where they remain roughly 24 hours before returning. It's still not clear exactly what's going on.
Bucks might be striking out in search of estrus does. Does might be seeking seclusion, or possibly bringing their suitors with them. Either way, it's reasonable to conclude these excursions have something to do with breeding.