Some whitetail does come into estrus in October, as evidenced by the first bump in the chart above from the Minnesota DNR.
But October breeding is spotty and hit-and-miss. If you’re lucky and in the right spot when a doe comes into early estrus, you are apt to see her come past your stand with one or two tongue-lolling bucks on her tail…or 5 or 6 or even more. But it rarely works out that way.
A study in Michigan points out the norm: 80-90% of does are bred in November, with only about 5% bred in the October mini-rut.
But as soon as a buck sheds his velvet in September he’s ready, willing and able to hump a hot doe, no matter the date, be it October 15 or December 8 (also evident in the chart is more late breeding than most hunters imagine).
Our friend Dr. Grant Woods adds a clarification to a common misconception: “It’s important for hunters to consider that the increased rut behavior of bucks right now in October and the peak of doe conception are not simultaneous.”
The bucks you see prowling, scraping and even sniffing at does right now are exhibiting normal pre-rut activity, whether there’s a hot early doe in the area or not.
Regardless of how few does are actually ready to breed now in October, the bucks are starting to move, and it’s only going to get better!