Walking to my car after a four-hour night class, I was awoken from my sleepy haze to a rapid clopping noise to the right of me. I turn to see, to my delight, the silhouette of three deer scurrying towards the forest. It’s rutting season! For those of you that don’t know, “rutting” is the term used for the mating season of ruminant animals, such as Wisconsin’s White-tailed Deer, a common mammal on Parkside’s rich, forested campus. According to National Geographic, a doe’s (the term for female deer) gestation process is about 7 months long, giving birth to their fawn in May or June. That is why deer begin to mate or rut now, during the Fall.
During rutting season deer are much more active and on-the-move than normal. They are also less cautious at this time, especially the male deer, or bucks. The bucks are focused on trying to mate with as many does as possible in order to successfully pass on their genes and ensure a new generation. Being that Parkside’s campus is located on such a beautiful and dense forested area, there is a great number of wildlife present, especially deer. With the deer being so active, I warn those of you who commute to be extra careful driving, especially those with night classes like me! Deer are much more likely to get hit by cars during rutting.
It’s not only the cars that deer are vulnerable to during this time, but they are vulnerable to hunters as well. The rutting season is an especially popular and favorable time for hunting. Since the deer are less cautious at this time, it makes them an easy target for hunters. So don’t only watch out for the deer that are on-the-move, but the hunters that will be on the move also!
In Wisconsin, the deer’s rut usually last for about one to three months. It begins about this time of year, approximately at the end of September. Wikipedia explains that many believed that the rutting season runs according to the lunar phases; that it begins seven days following the autumnal equinox, the second full moon. This year’s equinox will be on Sept. 23.
With our sprawling campus overlapping the abundance of nature, we all have to consider our deer friends (yes, pun intended), for our own safety and as well as for theirs.
Article by Liv Gripko