The rut drives wary bucks out of hiding, providing hunters with the best opportunity of the season to catch mature deer roaming about during shooting hours.

But when is the best time to be on stand?

That all depends on where you hunt.

The rut varies greatly, and state biologists do not track the entire cycle.

What they do track very well, however, is the mean conception date of deer throughout the state. Chad Dacus, Wildlife Bureau Director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP), said this is done by sampling pregnant does each spring and determining conception dates.

The result: A map detailing when deer in each area of Mississippi are most likely to be in breeding frenzies. 

NOTE: A simulated mean conception date is depicted on the accompanying map, not the peak rut.

According to MDWFP, most deer behavior studies have shown that hunter-observable rutting activity peaks about two weeks prior to the mean breeding date. Therefore, simply subtract about two weeks from the mean conception date in an area to obtain the simulated peak rut period.

For example, in the northwest Delta the mean conception date range is Dec. 6 - 13, which would translate into peak rutting activity beginning around November 22.

So just locate where you hunt and make plans to be in the woods.