Wade Free, northwest region wildlife supervisor, said bucks are starting to show increased breeding activity, with fresh rubs and scrapes.
“Rifle season has the potential to coincide perfectly with rutting activity,” he said.
“The deer are going to breed regardless of weather, but colder temperatures allow the deer to move during the day when otherwise, temperatures make it too stressful if not impossible to go all day.”
In southeast Oklahoma, the rut is increasing in intensity and has not yet seen its peak, said Jack Waymire, southeast region senior wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Department.
“Archers are harvesting mature bucks, and bucks are cruising and beginning to chase does,” Waymire said. “The highest peak of the rut is still ahead.”
Waymire said acorn production in the region was poor this year but that some may still be found along river systems. Deer movement, though, is picking up, increasing the chances for hunters to see and harvest deer.
“If the weather cooperates, it is shaping up to be a good deer gun season,” Waymire said.
In southwest Oklahoma, the rut has been slow developing this year.
“This is probably good news for those planning to hunt the deer gun season opener,” said Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “The cool wet weather last weekend should be the stimulus to increase deer movements and typical deer rutting behavior.”
Smith said deer activity through muzzleloader season and controlled hunts that took place in early November was very slow. Last week, hunters were reporting new scrapes, but adult bucks were also still being observed in groups.
Smith said people in the field were not observing significant rutting activity last week. Though some bucks appeared to be rutting heavily, the majority had not begun rutting actively.
An increase in vehicle-killed deer was noted last week, “a sure sign that the rut is beginning,” Smith said.
In the central region, rutting activity was observed by hunters toward the end of muzzleloader season.
“A cool front dropped temperatures to the lows 30s at daylight and high 50s at sunset,” said Rex Umber, central region senior biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Above normal temperatures have followed with limited activity, but bucks appear to be on the move again.”
Deer harvest is currently down about 25 percent or more in the central region compared to last year’s data, but as usual, some mature bucks were harvested during both archery and muzzleloader seasons.
“The acorn crop appeared good in early summer, but weather conditions were not favorable for development in July and August,” Umber said.
But while acorns are spotty, other food sources are available.
“The persimmon crop is good on most sites and deer are hitting these sites very hard,” Umber said. “Wheat crops are also spotty — some sites good to excellent.”
While Umber refrains from predicting the dates of the rut in the central region, he sites Nov. 15 as the “usual” time to observe the rut taking place in Oklahoma.
According to reports from the northeast part of the state, rutting activity is beginning to pick up and, though it may be winding down in the early part of deer gun season, deer will still be active and hunters should have opportunities to see and harvest rutting deer.