QUESTION: I live in Lexington, South Carolina. I am 48 years old and I’ve hunted deer for 41 years. When is the Rut in my state? My father, who is 83 years young, says it is always the second week of October. I believe there are three rutting periods in South Carolina: October, November, and December. The doe that does not get bread the first rut will come back in every 28 days until she gets bred, correct? Also, can a buck breed when he loses his antlers? Our deer season comes in Aug. 15, and I’ve seen some fawns that look like only a couple weeks old. — Gary G.
ANSWER: For this answer I went straight to the source: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Deer & Wild Turkey Program Coordinator Charles Ruth. Here’s what he had to say:
“Many years of deer reproductive data indicate that the peak breeding time is from mid-October to mid-November for the bulk of the state. Approximately 80 percent of the females examined over all years conceived during the period of Oct. 6 through Nov. 16. More specifically, the last week in October and the first week in November represent the peak, with the average doe conceiving on about Oct. 30. Of course there is a bell shaped distribution of breeding dates around this average date.”
Dr. Ruth provided me with a graph showing the distribution of breeding dates for females in the Piedmont and coastal plain but noted these data are not applicable to the mountains in the northwest corner of the state, where peak breeding is about three to four weeks later. He also provided a figure showing peak breeding along the immediate coast occurs from Oct. 1 through Nov. 1. Over most of the state, it occurs from Oct. 15 through Nov. 15. In the northwest, it peaks between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.
As a side note, we’ve had so many questions about rut timing that we decided to do a full-blown feature article on it. Be sure to check it out in Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine’s August, 2011 issue.