Program 7: The Rut

Drop in on a conversation between father and son hunting partners, Rupe and Joe LaRock, who talk about the annual breeding cycle of male deer known as the "rut."


Transcript:

 

Gregory L. SharrowDeer Stories is a documentary series from Vermont Folklife Center Media. The series explores hunting from an insider’s point of view and is drawn from interviews with hunters from around Vermont. {Rupe} and Joe LaRock are father and son and avid hunting partners. Here they talk about the annual breeding cycle of deer.

The LaRocks

The LaRocks

Joe LaRock
I think pretty much you can bank anywhere from November 10th through the end of November they’re rutting and they’re rutting hard.

Rupe LaRock
You can just smell the heat and smell the rut right in the air. You can just [SNIFFS]. Geez, we’re kind of coming into it. The bucks, yeah, you can smell the bucks, too.

Joe LaRock
I think more so the bucks because, you know, at this point in time, even November 1st, they’re preparing themselves and they’re taking their back legs and they’re rubbing them together and they’re urining on their legs. And that stinks. And that, you know, and what happens is is their hocks, they’re trying to get on their glands, and that’s all premature stuff and just getting ready. You know, he’s feeling it a little bit. It all comes down to, again, deer movement.

Rupe LaRock
Deer movement, yeah.

Joe LaRock
They don’t move around as much in the daytime. The bucks that time of year will because they’re trying to find where the in-heat does are and they’re just all going crazy, where, the does, let’s face it, they got their pattern and they’re not gonna change because they’re in heat. They don’t change. They don’t start cruising around looking for other does. I mean, they stay in their pattern. So a good opportunity for that buck to, you know, to have his fun is when she’s out in her movement from her feeding to her bedding.

Rupe LaRock
His harem—he has no harem.

Joe LaRock
That happens at night.

Rupe LaRock
Now, that buck there, he bred a doe two or three times in the time that I was tracking him before I killed him. He had a doe with him, he wasn’t going to leave her, and actually she cost him his life. He was breeding this doe right in the middle of the day. And that was unusual for us. She was—maybe he was with her for a day or two and she wasn’t in heat and then all of a sudden she came into heat and he wasn’t gonna leave her. And that’s just pretty much what it amounted to: he wasn’t gonna leave her until he’d bred her.

Joe LaRock
I think that’s what it was, ______, and his—

Rupe LaRock
‘Cause they, they know. I mean, they’ll go up to a doe and if she ain’t ready yet, well, I’m gonna go get another one and then I’m gonna come back and check this one ‘cause this one might be ready tomorrow. And that’s their job. That’s their job right now is to breed does.

Joe LaRock
The end of the second week in the main [Maine?] season they are really starting to move.

Rupe LaRock
You just can’t stand it—
And that’s the time of year when you cannot be in camp.

Joe LaRock
You can’t be.

Rupe LaRock
Yeah, you just can’t be.

Joe LaRock
No, you gotta be in the woods.

Rupe LaRock
I told him there’s no difference. Five after one? No, excuse me. Ten after one, five after one. You’re just five after one?

Joe LaRock
Noon.

Rupe LaRock
Exactly noon. Five after one. Three o’clock. At 3 o’clock, 10 o’clock. All these times are when bucks are—

Joe LaRock
You know, most people are gone home.

Rupe LaRock
Yeah, they go in the woods for three or four hours and then go home, you know, and stuff like that. They don’t realize that big buck, the minute he gets done his breeding all night, he wants to rest and then about 11 o’clock he wants to get up and get something to eat. He’s hungry, you know? It’s just like—

Joe LaRock
And he eats a little bit and then mostly, you know, after he eats he’ll lay down again, but he’ll be up before you know it and start cruising around. That deer there, he was looking for a doe. He had his nose right on the ground: five after one.

Rupe LaRock
Just cruising around. Yeah.

Gregory L. Sharrow
You’ve been listening to Vermonters Rupe LaRock of Sudbury and Joe LaRock of Whiting. Deer Stories was produced by Erica Heilman and Gregory Sharrow for the Vermont Folklife Center of Middlebury, Vermont. I’m Gregory Sharrow.