Love, it is in the air

By Jim Ward for The Observer November 01, 2013 11:29 am

Shorter days in the fall stimulate the buck to prepare for the upcoming rut. When researchers put male deer in a windowless building, they discovered that, by condensing a year’s light cycle into six months with light timers, they could force the bucks into two rut cycles, whereby they  grew two sets of antlers in one year. (JIM WARD photo)
Shorter days in the fall stimulate the buck to prepare for the upcoming rut. When researchers put male deer in a windowless building, they discovered that, by condensing a year’s light cycle into six months with light timers, they could force the bucks into two rut cycles, whereby they grew two sets of antlers in one year. (JIM WARD photo)

Mule deer rut peaks in November, sending bucks into a frenzy 

For your average male Homo sapien to become smitten by the love bug, he’ll pick up on subtle cues from members of the opposite sex. 

Curves in all the right places, a little lipstick here and a little mascara there, will all heighten his arousal. 

Certainly, a short mini-skirt doesn’t hurt. 

A mule deer buck is attracted to the doe by not-so-obvious changes in her body chemistry, but it’s more scent-related rather than visual — clues that humans could never perceive.

The mule deer rut peaks in mid-November and is orchestrated by a couple simple organs in the deer and, believe it or not, has a lot to do with the position of Mother Earth in our solar system. 

Within the brain of the deer is the tiny pineal gland. 

Longer autumn nights stimulate the gland to ask the brain for more melatonin. 

These chemical processes within the deer’s body signal the doe to come into estrous and tells the buck to prepare for the rut. He’ll grow antlers and shed his velvet. 

His neck will swell and almost
suddenly he’ll become agitated at other bucks that were his pals all summer. 

As the doe approaches estrous, the vomeronasal gland (Jacobsen’s organ) in the roof of the buck’s mouth, will pick up on changes in pheromones emitted from her urine and scent glands. 

The end result of all this posturing and body chemistry is a spotted fawn born at just the right time in the spring. 

Now, Ma Nature didn’t really intend for all this to be very romantic, but it does start with a soft breeze and a beautiful fall sunset.