With the general gun season just getting underway, whitetail hunters are already off to a good start.

The cold front last week helped kick-start the opening weekend and East Texas is expecting the arrival of another cold front today. The sharp temperature drops get the deer moving but another influence is in play.

The rut, or when female whitetails come into estrus (breeding season) and males will be high on testosterone and the instinctual urge to sustain the species.

Once the rut kicks into high gear bucks may travel non-stop looking for a receptive female.

The rut in the our neck of the woods is set to peak around Nov. 12.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department compiled data for the entire state and concluded with peak breeding dates for whitetails. The biologists counted fawns and calculated the gestation period and their inception from birth date.

This data revealed the peak breeding date in each area of the state the biologist studied.

The majority of breeding in East Texas is done around Nov. 12, and in the southern reaches of East Texas the dates were about 10 days later on Nov. 22.

The extreme south Texas areas of Dilly or Encinal the rut is much later, around Christmas.

The study was in depth and each area has slightly different times.

This is not to say that breeding does not take place at other times of the fall/winter. In fact the study revealed that a doe will come into estrus again if not bred during the first cycle.

The vast majority of females will be bred each year. Whitetails are prolific and will find a niche even in suburban areas.

The East Texas herd (along with the entire state) is in great shape heading into the season. Healthy does, healthy bucks, excellent recruitment should mean a busy rut.

The older, dominant bucks will take all the females available while fighting off younger and inferior bucks. This also adds to the genetics of the herd.

Larger, healthier, dominant bucks doing the breeding will result in superior genetics being passed onto the 2020 fawns.

Hunting the rut is a time-consuming task. Bucks on your hunting area may only be there a day or two.

As mentioned earlier, they are constantly searching for a receptive doe. If you have a good number of does in your hunting area, you have a natural attractant.

“Watch the girls and the boys will show up” is how an old deer hunter summed it up to me years ago and I will say there is fact in his adage.

Go early and stay late is still the best advice for finding your trophy.