We are well into autumn. Indeed, we’re less than a month shy of the winter solstice.
With November also comes the peak of the “rut,” or mating season, of the White-tailed Deer. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources posts a neat map to see when the rut occurs around the state.
Dawn and I got a couple of glimpses of the rut over the past week. We saw many more antlered bucks crossing the roads than in previous weeks. The trail cams also picked up more antlered bucks following does than earlier in the fall. Our return drive home Friday was interrupted when one antlered buck was being pursued across the road by another. And Dawn spotted what appears to be a deer “rub” on an Alder growing in the creek bottom.
So, our goal now is to start looking for deer “sheds,” or the deer antlers once the bucks lose them. According to the MSU DeerLab at Mississippi State University, the bucks undergo a post-mating decline in their testosterone levels. This drop triggers the activity of special cells that dissolve the boundary tissue between the antler and skull. The antlers can be “cast” or “shed” within a day or two. And within a few weeks, fresh antler growth begins for the next autumn mating period.