Bagging a "wily whitetail deer" is a memorable experience since hunters are pitting their skill against an animal that has an acute knowledge of his surroundings and a keen instinct for survival. Hunters can do many things to prepare for their ultimate challenge. First, they need to become acquainted with the terrain they are going to hunt. This can be accomplished with several preseason trips to the hunting area. Familiarity with the terrain is key. A good knowledge of the habitat, deer trails, topography, location of feeding and bedding areas, and daily whitetail deer activity patterns will pay big dividends when the season opens.
Many hunters prefer to use a bow and arrow to hunt deer. Wishes For Wildlife Foundation encourages bow hunting specifically for does on two of its properties. Bow hunting is a solitary sport with hunters trying to harvest a deer by utilizing masking their human odor with covering scents such as doe urine, wearing camouflage clothing, and utilizing ground or tree stands which are also camouflaged. This is a high quality experience since bow hunters must be able to get within 20 to 30 yards of a deer to make a killing shot. In Iowa, about 25 percent of the bow hunters are successful in harvesting at least one deer each year. Bow hunting seasons are several months long and include the major portion of the "rut" when deer are more mobile and less wary.
What are the early and late ruts? Hunters and outdoor writers often talk about the rut being early or late. In Iowa, the breeding season for white-tailed deer is fairly predictable from year to year. Within a specific area, habitat conditions not only affect fawn survival, but can affect the timing of breeding. A doe in poor condition or a young doe may not breed until late in the season.
Bucks, like hunters, have a tendency to move around during cool weather. Bucks with hardened antlers are ready to breed and are looking for a willing doe. More movement means more opportunity to encounter a receptive doe. This increased movement helps give rise to the idea that cold weather causes the rut. However, this theory is disproved by whitetail deer breeding in tropical climates.