I grew up in western Colorado and we always went up and watched the bucks chase the does during our Christmas vacations. According to biologists, its the amount of light in the day that gets the rut going, but I've seen it start a little earlier when it was an early winter.
I doubt the actual rut started early, but the weather would force the bucks and does together (I don't know if the does went into estrus early, but the bigger bucks started hanging with the does once the snow started piling up).
Even before the rut starts, there will be bucks with the does, but in my experience these are the 2-3 year olds that aren't "really bucks yet", the largest bucks don't start chasing does until hunting season is over and the mountain is theirs again. Although there are some small trophy hunts with just a few hunters, the last big season usually ends around mid-November.
Just my personal experience for what its worth. The largest Muley I've shot, was mid-November (last day of the last season) and he was alone in a drainage with no other deer. I'm sure he was just shy and the hunting pressure had him completely isolated from the does and smaller bucks. If I hadn't harvested him, I'm sure that by early December, he would have been in the thick of things, passing on his genes. BTW: he was just a little over 34" outside spread.
If some is good and more is better, then too much is just right.
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