Deer Rutting Behavior: 5 Mating Season Changes In Bucks

Deer Rutting Behavior Mating Season

The behavioral changes in male deer during mating season are spectacular, to say the least. During what is known as the “rutting season”, a male deer or buck will undergo a complete transformation. It’s a temporary change that can last a few weeks, with a single purpose in mind.

To compete with other bucks and get to mate with the female doe. All of this effort from the adult deer is needed to ensure the next generation of fawns is born.

The dance repeats every year, between the end of summer and the beginning of winter. In this overview, we go over some of the more interesting deer rutting behaviors. Let’s get right into it!


1. Bucks Get Very Territorial

One of the more dangerous changes in the behavior of the male deer is the fact that they start to fiercely defend their ‘own turf’. The territorial disputes are driven by hormonal changes and are meant to optimize the reproductive capabilities of the buck.

In other words, the bucks are basically aggressively communicating the following (mainly) to the other males out there:

Hey, you! Get off my land, these females are mine, this land is great for my (future) offspring, and I don’t want to see any other bucks out here taking my females, they’re mine and mine only!


Sometimes the animals can get a little bit overly excited about their territory, though. That’s where things can start to get a little dangerous at times. They could even start attacking humans. So watch out during the rutting season!

A buck won’t back down from a bit of pain either, since the animals don’t experience pain the same way we humans do. So you better get out of the way of an aggressive male. Don’t make sudden movements, but always back away slowly.


2. Calling For Females

During rutting season, you’ll be able to hear quite a few disturbing sounds in the forest. These are not from animals in distress, on the contrary. Bucks make their somewhat scary-sounding roaring calls to attract any ‘willing’ single ladies in the area.

It’s kind of like Tinder, but the swiping is done with deep gurgling mouth noises. The first time you’ll hear it might be a bit intimidating of a sound, but it’s totally harmless. Just listen to it and you’ll understand what I mean:


3. No More Food And Sleep

Ever fallen in love and completely lost your appetite? That’s exactly what happens to a male deer too. And that’s nothing to be ashamed about. The guys just get so shy around the idea of loving a girl that they completely forget to eat and sleep. All they can really think about is making love to that cute girl down the forest.

Males get so obsessed with finding a female to love, that they completely forget how to function as a deer for a while. That can be taken quite literally. Their hormonal changes make it a lot less interesting for them to eat.

That doesn’t mean bucks don’t eat at all during rutting season. They will eat a little food if given the opportunity. But they are much less likely to do so. The same goes for their sleeping pattern: resting is of lesser importance, because the females are only in heat for a short period of time!


4. Huge Increase In Mating Vocalizations

The massive increase in testosterone hormones causes bucks to create all sorts of highly interesting mating calls. One of the primary additions to the vocalization of the male deer is the deep grunts it makes to attract any females that might be nearby.

Not only are grunts used to attract females, but it is also a warning sound for other males that are in the area. It basically tells them to back off, because this land is occupied by me, the ferocious Bambi!

The deep-throated belching or groaning might sound a little bit gross if you don’t know what you’re listening to. But trust me, it’s good that these calls exist. You’ll know exactly which areas of the forest to avoid. If a buck in heat is nearby, you can bet on it that they’re pretty aggressive.

Their anger is mainly targeted towards other bucks, but they won’t shy away from attacking a human that comes a little too close for comfort…


5. Fighting With Other Bucks

That leads us to the last and perhaps most iconic change in male deer: the tendency to fight other males to get to mate with the females. While these animals are normally relatively non-aggressive towards their surroundings, all of this might change for a while in the rutting season (mainly due to hormones).

Did you think those impressive antlers were just for show? Think again!

Male deer will use their antlers as a weapon when dueling with other bucks. Whoever knows how to use theirs in the most effective way gets the female. But don’t think it’s a clean fight… Some really disturbing things can happen during these fights. That includes antlers getting intertwined and males being stuck together for days on end. Imagine that…

Good thing we humans have dating apps these days. That’s a lot less violent and doesn’t involve spearing another guy with your head. It’s an impressive spectacle to see in the animal kingdom, but definitely not fun to participate in. And yet the bucks will do it, every single year. It’s an admirable thing. The things male deer will do to secure their offspring.


Learn More About Deer Around The House

Has this short overview interested you in the world of the rutting season? You don’t have to be a game hunter to delve deeper into the world of deer behavior. The animal kingdom is a wonderful place full of things to learn from.

If you’d like to learn more about the rutting season, the behaviors that stem from it, or deer in general, then feel free to look around a little more on this website. We have a lot of super interesting information for you that will teach you about deer and what they are up to around your house.

Below you will find a few interesting suggestions for related content about deer. Feel free to dig into it and learn more stuff about these magnificent animals. Thank you for coming to hang out with us, see you on the next one!