Photo Credit: Grand View Outdoors

Rut season creates a hotbed of activity where you might see a flurry of deer running through the woods at any given time of day. This is obviously a slice of heaven for hunters and a peak time to hunt. Knowing the beginning signs of deer rut season can seriously improve your hunting chances. Learn the signs that rut is right around the corner and you can be one of the first to catch that prime window of time before the full rut goes into effect.


In the Northern and Midwest regions, rut can usually be counted on to take place during the first couple weeks of November. A sign that pre-rut season is in effect is that you will see antler rub marks on the trees. This has been thought to be linked solely to velvet removal in the past, but further observance has shown that these rubs correlate with rut season. The deer are not only rubbing their antlers to get their velvet off, they are rubbing their forehead glands on the trees as well to mark their scent and communicate with the other deer in the area. Older bucks rub their antlers on trees more often than younger bucks. The closer it gets to rut season, the deeper those rubs will get. They will eventually turn into scrapes. Then, once you stop seeing deer around the scraping areas, that’s the indicator that rut is about to start. The deer no longer need to spread their scent anymore, they’ve already laid down the framework and are ready for the rut.

Activity During Daylight

Another sign that the rut is about to break out is that bucks will start emerging hours before sunset and loiter hours after sunrise. The more you see deer activity in the daylight hours, the closer it is to rut. Deer are normally nocturnal creatures, so if you see them out and about in the middle of the day, that’s a sign that something abnormal is happening. Bucks that normally congregate in larger groups in the early fall will start to break off into smaller groups, pairs, and finally solo. When you see a pair of bucks, that is an indicator that rut is around the corner.

Weather Doesn’t Matter

The temperature doesn’t necessarily dictate the timing of rut. Even if it’s 100 degrees outside, the rut will still happen when it’s supposed to. Deer will breed regardless; it’s in their DNA. The only thing the weather dictates is how much the deer move around. They will still breed, but they may do so in heavily shaded areas instead.

The peak hunting days during rut season are going to be in that beginning phase where the bucks are chasing the does. The need to move around to find the does will flush bucks out of their hiding spots and into the open. Rut season takes away some of their natural instincts and forces them to put themselves in open areas they may otherwise avoid.

While peak rut season may vary widely within the states, if you put out trail cameras, observe deer behavior, and research what the trends have been in years past, you can make the most of rut. Watch out for rub marks on trees and smaller groups of deer. These will be your signs that rut is just around the corner. What are some of your favorite parts of rut season? What do you use as your biggest indicator? Let us know in the comments!


  1. Lloyd Shuster on May 29, 2021 at 10:23 am

    When I see a mature doe without her fawns with her I know she is ready to breed.

  2. Kat Van Rooyen on November 6, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    When I see deer in small groups scampering up my hill in Late afternoon, I know rut is beginning

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