BRANDON NOVOTNY, Ranger Prairie Oaks
November marks an exciting time in Metro Parks, just as a yearly tradition is taking place. The white-tail deer rut is in full swing and deer are more active now than usual. The rut is the breeding period when bucks are on the move throughout the day in search of does.
With the rut at its peak, this is an excellent time to get out to your Metro Parks in search of deer. They are not nearly as bothered by nearby cars and people as they are at other times of the year and chances of deer sightings increase. They are on the move frequently throughout the day, with mornings and evenings still being the peak times to see them.
One way to tell if you are in a good area to see a buck is to look for rubs. These are scrapings made on tree by bucks to help mark their territory. A buck will use the base of his antlers and his forehead skin to rub several trees in his area. These actions leave behind a visible scrape on the tree and it leaves a scent that other deer passing through the area can smell. Bucks will make several hundred rubs throughout the entire rut. If you are out on the trail and see scrapings on the base of a tree, it’s a sign that a buck is hanging out in the area. The scrapes are very visible and clearly look deliberate.
While the rut presents a great opportunity to see more deer, the chances of striking a deer while driving also increases. With the bucks focused intently on finding a doe, their attentiveness drops. They cross roads more frequently and are not nearly as alert while crossing.
Even driving at slow speeds, a collision with a deer can cause heavy damage to your vehicle. If you are visiting a Metro Park and strike a deer, please contact the ranger on duty for assistance. Move your car to a safe spot and do not go near the deer. Even an injured deer can hurt you if it’s frightened. Rangers will provide assistance, take photos and file a report for you. While chances of a collision increase during the rut, they are still rare, so get out to the parks and look for big bucks while you have this great opportunity, and remember, stay extra vigilant while behind the wheel.