Editors Blog

The Best Rut Dates Are Often Dictated by Deer Density

Mature whitetail doe with fawn 

Deer & Deer Hunting field editor John Ozoga spent most of his career as a wildlife biologist studying the effects of high deer densities, especially those related to the social stress that’s involved when deer densities exceed a property’s carrying capacity.

According to John, too many deer on the habitat can cause nutritional shortages and psychological stress on the deer herd. These are effects that we hunters and deer enthusiasts cannot see. Hints of these effects, however, can be manifested in symptoms that are revealed subtly in deer behavior — such as a prolonged rut, or a rut that doesn’t seem to "happen."

"Studies have shown that high densities (even in areas with supplemental feeding and the best food plots) can delay peak rut activity among socially low-ranking first- and second-time breeding does by as much as two weeks," Ozoga said. 

This is something to keep in mind as we enter this deer season. If your area is experiencing a boom in the population, it would be wise to take full advantage of your doe hunting opportunities.

To learn more about sound deer management practices, check out this new book by Kent Kammermeyer.