Rutting Young Bucks

By GrowingDeer,

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Dr. Grant,

This rut was a very good one for me in Ohio!  I have been bowhunting deer for 26 years and have never seen a doe being breed by a buck.  Last week on November 10th while on a stand a little 5 point buck came in chasing a doe.  They stopped at 35 yards in front of me and the buck breed her.  I was amazed!  They just stood there for 15 minutes without moving, and then I see another doe walking up.  She walked up to the little buck, and he breed her too…WOW!!  I was blown away by all this!  My thoughts were that I have way too many does in my area, because there were no other bucks, and that the other bucks were locked-down with does.  What are your thoughts?  Thanks for your help!



That is a neat observation.  It was once common in the deer world to think that only the oldest bucks in the herd did all the breeding, but after years of research this is changing rapidly.  Bucks of all age classes can get in on the action even when herds are well managed and contain balanced sex ratios and age structures.  This is because a mature buck can only tend to one doe at a time, very different from a bull elk that tends a whole harem.  With large numbers of does coming into estrus during the peak of the rut subordinate bucks can also find a date or two.  Remember that genetics are set at conception so there is no disadvantage to a deer herd genetically speaking if a young buck breeds a doe.  However, if the buck age structure is such that young bucks must do all the breeding, then they may not express their full antler development potential as they will spend huge amounts of energy during the rut.

If you are unsure about your herd’s adult sex ratio or age structure it would be beneficial to start collecting observation data and to perform a camera survey.  These are great tools to ensure the herd’s sex ratio and age structure are doing well.

Growing Deer together,