The rut is the mating season of ruminant animals such as deer(sheep, elk, moose etc.). During the rut (or rutting period) bucks often rub their antlers or horns on trees or shrubs, fight with each other, wallow in mud or dust, and herd estrus females together.
The rut in many species is triggered by a shortening of the length of daylight hours each day. The timing of the rut for different species depends on the length of their gestation period (length of pregnancy), usually occurring so the young are born in the spring, shortly after new green growth has appeared (which provides food for the females, allowing them to provide milk for the young), and when the temperatures are warm enough that the young will not die of hypothermia.
Studies indicate the peak mating season for deer in New Jersey runs from late October, throughout November, and into mid-December in all regions of the state, beginning first in northern regions.
Drivers in New Jersey should be extra alert to avoid collisions, as deer movements related to breeding have begun and will pick up in the coming weeks. Triggered by shorter days and cooler weather, deer disperse and move around considerably as they search for mates.
You are encouraged to alert the Department of Transportation about dead deer they find along the state highway system and deer crossing locations. DOT has made it easy and convenient for residents to do so online at .
- If you spot a deer, slow down and pay attention to possible sudden movement. If the deer doesn't move, don't go around it. Wait for the deer to pass and the road is clear.
- If a collision appears inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact. The deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake appropriately, but stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.
- Pay attention to "Deer Crossing" signs. Slow down when traveling through areas known to have a high concentration of deer so you will have ample time to stop if necessary.
- If you are traveling after dark, use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads.
- If you see one deer, be on guard: others may be in the area. Deer typically move in family groups at this time of year and cross roads single-file. Female deer are being chased by bucks and during breeding phase are often unaware of traffic.
- Don't tailgate. Remember: the driver in front of you might have to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a deer.
- Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law. Drive at a safe and sensible speed, taking into account weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.
Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.
More information about white-tailed deer in New Jersey