NDA’s Guide to the Whitetail Rut


The whitetail rut is the most exciting time of the season for deer hunters, and it’s also a time when the NDA receives a lot of questions about this important season in the whitetail’s year. Many of the answers are found here on DeerAssociation.com, and we’ve compiled this guide to help you find them quickly.

Simply click on any question below to jump to an article with the answer.

Will the rut be early (or late) this year?

Will dominant bucks dominate the breeding?

What’s a good strategy for hunting bucks during the rut?

What is the purpose and function of the whitetail’s tarsal gland?

Can hunting rub lines be an effective approach?

I saw a buck do a lip-curl display. What is going on when that happens?

What behaviors lead up to a buck fight? (with photos!)

Is there a best time to rattle? What’s the best technique? (with video!)

What triggers the whitetail rut?

Why do rut behaviors and activity increase when there are more mature bucks in the population?

Is there a link between moon phase and the timing of actual deer breeding activity?

How many rubs does the average buck make?

Can a doe breed in its first fall, as a fawn?

When do bucks visit scrapes?

Is the “Lockdown Phase” a Myth?

Why does the timing of the rut peak scatter all over the calendar in the Southeast U.S.?

How can I determine the peak of deer breeding where I hunt?

Is late rutting activity an indication of a problem?

When do bucks make the most rubs and scrapes in relation to the peak of breeding? See the infographic below:


Do you have more questions about the rut that weren’t answered here? Let us know in the comment section below, and we’ll plan future content to provide the answers. In the meantime, please consider becoming a member of the NDA to support our ongoing efforts to provide deer hunters with the most reliable and practical information about whitetails and deer hunting!

About Lindsay Thomas Jr.

Lindsay Thomas Jr. is the editor of Quality Whitetails magazine, the journal of the National Deer Association, and he is NDA's Chief Communications Officer. He has been a member of the staff since 2003. Prior to that, Lindsay was an editor at a Georgia hunting and fishing news magazine for nine years. Throughout his career as an editor, he has written and published numerous articles on deer management and hunting. He earned his journalism degree at the University of Georgia.