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How much weight can a whitetail buck lose during the rut?

The Question

Hi Ken:

How much weight can a whitetail buck lose during the rut? Also, once field dressed and hung, how much weight do they lose?



The Answer

Information I’ve seen suggests that a buck may lose as much as 20- to 30 per cent of his body weight during the rut, depending upon the area, availability of foods, the animal’s its pre-rut condition, injuries or sickness, etc. Chasing does around all day and night for a few weeks while eating little can put significant stress on a buck. That’s one of the reasons they’re susceptible to harsh winters and, along with young of the year, can sustain high levels of mortality when winters are long and cold with heavy snows.

When it comes to a field-dressed deer, a commonly accepted formula is to multiply the dressed weight by 1.28 to arrive at the whole weight. For example, a deer dressing at 150 pounds would be estimated to weigh 192 pounds whole. Of course this varies from area to area, and deer to deer, but it’s a pretty good rough estimate.

Ken Bailey

Ken Bailey

An all-around hunter, Ken Bailey enjoys pursuing waterfowl the most. Based in Edmonton, Outdoor Canada's longtime hunting editor Ken Bailey has hunted every major Canadian game animal, in every corner of the country. For many years, he’s shared his deep knowledge of game behaviour, and wide expertise with all manner of firearms with OC's readers. His work has been recognized numerous times by both the Outdoor Writers of Canada and the National Magazine Awards. Ken is a committed conservationist, dedicated to habitat preservation, sustainable harvests, and passing along our hunting heritage to the next generation. He's also an avid fly fisherman, and a pretty darn good game chef.