How much weight do bucks loose during the rut?


Active Member
I recently shot the biggest bodied buck that I have ever seen in central Virginia. In the pictures I had of him back in the summer to me he looked like an angus bull. I was getting him on camera at least once a week all the way until November 4, then he got on does and staid on does all the way until he met his end on November 22 (he was tending a pair of does at the time, probably will never hear a grunt like that again). I have never seen such hard and concentrated rut activity here before. So my question to you all is how much weight can a buck loose when he is chasing hard for that long? I figured him to be well over 200 lbs in late August, and his live weight when killed was 181.2.
Using a large statistical sample I can generalize and say the average mature buck on my ranch is between 220-240 pre rut. By January most of them weigh around 180 lbs.
I have trail cam pics of different bucks that go right along with Baker's estimates. Don't even look like the same deer....
I am not sure that I believe that bucks "lose" their typical body weight that much. The weight they gain in the late fall is due to hormones similar to the enhancement drugs that we hear about in sports. They bulk up very rapidly due to these hormones which begin to fade as the rut nears an end. Then the deer drops back down to it's basically normal weights. During the winter months, the bacteria in their digestive system does not process the food they eat at the same rates either. A deer picks up a lot of those bacteria from the plants they eat. In the colder months those organisms are dormant so they are not available. I read that a deer could starve to death with a full stomach at that time of year if the food cannot be digested properly. That is why a lot of biologists do not recommend supplemental feeding in the winter months. Ever notice how does seem to be so scrawny in the spring? Same reason. Look at pictures of your bigger bucks at about the time they shed their velvet and compare those with pictures just before the rut begins. They have exploded in size in a very short time. then they will drop back down naturally as the days get shorter to a more normal size.