By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Whether you hunt or not, chances are you’re seeing more deer than ever these days, and three key factors lie at the heart of the situation.
In a region where only a very few years ago the sight of a single deer track was cause for excitement – if not disbelief – whitetail deer have become more numerous today possibly than any point in history, certainly more than any time in the last hundred years.
In addition to their overall population explosion, the reasons they’re in view more prominently right now than in the past many months include the changing weather, the harvesting of crops and their preparations for the breeding season, commonly called the rut.
Imagine spending Mississippi’s hottest days, all of them, from the middle of April to the latter parts of September, lying up in the briar thickets panting and baking, or lying in pools of water panting and suffering from mosquitoes.
When the first cool weather arrives, the relief we feel in the time we spend outside is received with even greater welcome by the deer that live there all the time. The arrival of the cooler weather also triggers the final preparations for winter, so the urge to feed that had been somewhat abated by the heat arrives in full force.
follow the food source
The blessed arrival of Canada’s finest air coincides with the harvest of crops, many of which were serving as the primary food source for their area’s deer up until whatever remained of the beans and corn took a ride to town on a truck. With the lowest-hanging fruit gone and the urge to move upon them, the closest food source for many then becomes the state’s largest rye grass and clover field, also known as your local highway right-of-way.
Everything in the deer world from now through roughly early February, when the bucks shed their antlers, is centered around the breeding season, or rut.
reproduction drive in gear
At this latitude, wildlife biologists tell us and hunters confirm, there is no clearly defined rut. Only a little further south on a property in central Alabama, there have been confirmed sightings, over a period of many years, of spotted fawns in every month of the year. While what passes for the rut here tends to occur approximately during the middle two weeks of December, there is considerable breeding activity before, during and after this two-week window.
With the urge for deer to make more deer ever present during this time, with food sources narrowed and overall activity increased, chances are the quantity of deer we’re seeing now will pale in comparison to what may be yet to come.