Every year around the first week in November in this neck of the woods the whitetail does go into estrus. Around a week before this happens, the whitetail bucks start looking for does to breed in what is called the Chase Phase. For the next 3 weeks or so the bucks will spend literally 24 hours a day chasing does to find the ones open to breeding. They don’t eat, they rarely sleep, and just the sight of another buck in their area can drive them into a rage. This is called the rut. It is an annual event the Mother Nature developed to ensure the continuation of the species. After the does are bred, they carry the fetus until next spring when food starts being bountiful and then they give birth. The does that do not become pregnant during the first round at the beginning of November will go into estrus again a couple weeks later to give them a second chance at getting pregnant. This is all pretty much common knowledge amongst at least the bow hunters here in Iowa as bow season is the only season open during the rut. – August time frame there is one of the largest ruts known to mankind. This usually happens up to a couple months before hunting season begins. This is the bow hunter rut! As summer subsides and autumn gets started, bow hunters all over The United States start out talking about deer hunting at first in what is known as the pre-rut strut. The closer it gets to their hunting season, the more intense it becomes. Bow hunters just at the sight of another bow hunter will start grunting and pointing at the latest and greatest hunting gimmicks. Hunters who see others they are known to hunt with will start showing each other trail cam photographs, followed by bumping chests and grunting. These hunters will lose the power to focus on anything but bow hunting. Most of their employers either understand or are in denial that they hired a rutter. During the last few weeks before the season starts, the bow hunter now in the Chase Your Tail Phase of the rut, will not even know there are other people in his life. He gets aggressive with other males in his area too. In this agitated state, he is likely to say or do about anything which he would normally refrain from doing. He does this to show that he is the dominant buck hunter in the area and warn others off. This is the annual start of the Hunting Widow syndrome. Until the hunter has filled his tags or the season ends the wives and girlfriends feel totally abandoned. Their man has foresaken them for the call of the wild. Some of these females make the mistake of giving the hunter an ultimatum to either give up hunting or they’re leaving while the hunter is in his hunting rut. Once the male has entered the rut, he is unable to give it up until after his burning desire ebbs. If he leaves the woods at all while rutting, it will only be long enough to load the car for his significant other and maybe hand her some gas money. Then, he returns to the woods to continue stalking his prey leaving her to decide whether or not to stay. As each hunter has filled his harvest tags, his rage will slowly start to ease. He will still be filled with adrenaline at first and a have an overwhelming desire to be in the woods. To get his fix, he will spend hours talking about hunting and giving advice to others who have not completed their own Harvest Phase. He is still not approachable by a hunting widow until after he has overcome not only the physical need to hunt but also the psychological need. After the season ends each year there is a time of depression for each bow hunter, whether they have been successful in harvesting deer that year or not. This period is known as the Remorse Phase. It is not that they have remorse for having harvested or failed to do so. It is a remorse that is rooted in the hunters’ genetic code. Tens of thousands of years ago, these men hunted daily to provide for their families. There was an inherent sense of duty to do so. Now that these descendents of those hunters only get to hunt a few short weeks out of the year, the remorse is that they cannot do this daily. In some cases where the hunting gene is still strong, it is not uncommon for the hunter to not come out of the Remorse Phase until the snow has all melted the next spring and the grass is growing. Usually at this time the hunting widow can point at the lawn mower and grunt and their loving husband will snap right out of it. Some of the signs to look for that will indicate the hunters’ rut has ended are: the camouflage has been washed, folded and put away; the bow will be back in the case; and he will verbally acknowledge others with phrases like “Hey, where have you been the last couple months?” or “Wow! You should have been here for the season I just had!” Once you have enough indicators that he has returned mentally to the fold, it is now safe to involve him in household decisions. There are some widows that are not meant to be involved with a bow hunter, but they should realize this early on before the relationship evolves too far. Most though have resigned themselves to a life of having their hunter around physically and mentally 8 months out of the year and then giving them up to their addiction for 4 months. Now, I must bid you adieu for I have to rush up to the sporting goods store, do some catch up grunting and bump a couple chests as my hunting season starts in two more months. To my fellow hunters, be safe and when using elevated stands, always use a safety harness and keep the mindset of “safety first”. May the Lord watch over you and protect you as you enter the woods to harvest the bounty He provides. May he bring you home safely to your family and watch over that family while you are away. Amen.