Photo Source: BowHunterPlanet
The breeding season for white-tailed deer occurs every year in the fall. This annual occurrence is one of the most anticipated times of the hunting season for hunters across the nation. While many attempt to predict the timing of the breeding cycle, it varies significantly from region to region. In northern Michigan, the breeding season usually begins near the end of October and peaks in the middle of November, with a late cycle in December.
Running until tired as written in the title of this article, describes what a buck will do during the peak of the breeding cycle. A whitetail buck is pre-programed to breed as many does as possible within the breeding cycle. A buck will run around the clock until near death, taking little to no time to eat or sleep attempting to successfully breed. “Running until they’re tired” means they’ll be presenting several opportunities for us as hunters, to get a shot at killing them. At no other time of the year will mature bucks be more visible and more active then this magical period.
Figuring out when the peak will occur is the first task, then getting into the woods during that time is your second task. Bucks will be on their feet when does in the area begin to come into estrus. The first phase of the breeding cycle that hunters will notice is the chasing phase.
This is an exciting time to be in the stand. Frequent buck and doe sightings with active chasing will become more prevalent during this time. While these sightings become more frequent, shot chances are often difficult due to deer quickly moving while chasing.
The best tactic to stop a running buck during “the chase” is to grunt or bleat. More often than not, these deer will ignore the calls and continue chasing. The does, during this phase, are not ready to breed. Thus, does will run from nagging bucks that are actively checking the does’ scent in anticipation of breeding. Bucks will run a lot during this phase but will take time to rest, eat and recover. This will change as the breeding time nears. Getting into the woods during this time allows you to see what bucks are moving in your area and what is available to kill when the breeding begins and the bucks slow down.
After a few does begin to come into estrus, bucks will now change from running after a fleeing doe to running all over in search of a doe in estrus. This my friends, is when they will “run until tired”. The bucks will be literally on the hoof 24/7 checking bedding areas, feeding areas and every area in between. Often, bucks will end up in some the strangest places such as; backyards, busy city streets, people’s homes and every place in between. Bucks get on a fresh estrus scent and lose their instincts that normally keep them out of these types of areas. What does that mean to you as a hunter? Opportunity!
This time of the year is simply the best. A tired, hungry, instinctive free buck, is the most vulnerable the animal has been all year. Bucks will take chances and make mistakes that will allow you to capitalize. Have you ever seen some of the videos on the internet that shows a mature buck that would normally weigh 225 pounds, that weighs 180 pounds, running through the woods like a mad man with his mouth wide open and ribs showing? If you answered yes, this is exactly when the buck is the most vulnerable and describes the “run until tired” phenomenon as described earlier. This phase is however, short lived. Spending your valuable hours in the stand must be done during around this phase of the cycle.
Bucks are some of the smartest animals, if not the smartest, sought after big game animals worldwide. Bucks often elude the most seasoned hunters with their keen sense of smell, hearing and vision. Using their vulnerability during this phase gives every hunter an excellent chance to score big this season. As much as the bucks will be “running until tired” so should you! In this fast paced world we live in, you’re already “running until tired”. So, get out and run with them this season!