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Grab your bow, deer are on the move

he breeding season of the whitetail deer, also known as the rut, starts sometime in October. The exact time and date is affected by such things as number of daylight hours, temperature, and weather.

This year, the rut started officially at 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 13. I know for certain this is the exact start since it was the time I saw a doe running headlong toward my shiny little red truck while watching over her shoulder. A few feet behind her was a buck, panting hard and watching nothing but the doe in front of him.

Since they almost got me, I get to declare the official start of the rut. From the number of deer I have seen hit along the highway, other people may disagree with my official starting time, but I have the column so I get to tell everybody. Some people will even believe I know the exact moment this annual event starts.

Oct. 13 would have actually been a very good day to be in the timber hunting. I received a second-hand weather report from our local Crop Service shortly after noon. A strong cold front was moving in after dark. There was going to be heavy rain and perhaps snow.

I tend to believe the weather reports and radar from Crop Service more than the one from the local television. The guys from Crop Service make their living on being able to get into the fields as the weather allows. If they are wrong, thousands of dollars worth of machinery sits idle.

Conversely, if people giving the weather report on television are wrong, at worst they will get damp when they do not bring their umbrellas to work. They can be wrong at predicting the weather ten days in a row but they are still there on day eleven. I have a tendency to believe people more if they have a vested interest in being correct.

A change in the weather combined with the start of the rut would make a very active day for the deer. They move about finding last-minute food before bedding down during the storm. They seem to know they may not be out eating again for a day or two. They travel far and wide, filling up as much as possible. This, combined with a bunch of amorous bucks chasing everything that will run and fighting with anything that does not, can make almost any place a good hunting spot. Deer will be passing by.

A few years ago, both of my sons were home at this time of year. Being one to always take advantage of free labor, the three of us went out to do some minor repairs on a fence that crossed one of the creeks. These areas, called water gaps because the rising water after a heavy rain always causes a gap in the fence, require vast amounts of maintenance.

Leaving the truck at the top of the hill, we carried two chain saws, some barbed wire, and a couple of fencing tools into the bottom of the ditch. With much sawing, good-natured promises to never visit me again, and a bit of bad mouthing the weather, our task was completed.

Turning to slog out of the cold and muddy creek, we saw a buck at the top of the creek bank looking down at us. He was a nice enough deer and deer season was open. He was not 15 feet away, but being armed only with chain saws and fencing tools, he was safe. Perhaps he had been attracted by all the frivolity being had in the cold mud just over the bank. Usually only during the rut will a deer act that stupid. When we were walking back, we saw another buck and a doe pass a few feet from our waiting truck. We decided then and there, if any more fences needed fixed, they could wait. The deer were on the move and it was time to grab the bows.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.