Rut Reporter Eric Bruce has been writing about hunting and fishing for newspapers and magazines for 25 years and hunts deer all over the South, including near his Georgia home. States covered: AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, FL.
Dec. 6–Overall Activity Status: Significant cold temperatures are blanketing the south and stimulating overall deer movement. Temperatures in the twenties are responsible for increased activity of does and bucks, and the pre-rut is here or very close in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Colder weather demands more calories to stay warm and deer need to move more to eat more.
Fighting: With the pre-rut comes more competition between bucks, and sparring with the younger bucks has begun. Trevor Fitzgerald of Southern Arrow Outfitters in Florida [888-597-3495] reports “our bucks are starting to rub more now and they are starting to spar and establish dominance. In the last week or so the bucks have really started to feed heavily in preparation of the rut. I have been getting some pics of really nice bucks feeding at our bait stations. I sent you a trail camera pic [above] that shows two bucks sparing.”
Rubs: Rubbing is increasing as bucks are marking their territories and preparing for the rut in MS, AL, LA, AR, and FL. Fitzgerald reports that his Florida bucks are making rubs more and more and should be in most other southern states too.
Scrapes:** Along with increased rubbing comes increased scraping in the pre-rut states. Look for new scrapes across most of the south becoming more plentiful.
Chasing:** Serious chasing is a few weeks away in most states. Pre-rut states (FL, AL, LA, AR, MS) may see some young bucks harassing the does, but the most females are not ready yet.
Daytime Movement:** Movement is increasing across the south as colder-than-average temperatures has spurred activity. Whitetails typically move more in colder weather and the need to feed along with the approaching rut has many deer moving.
Estrous Signs:** Estrous does are mainly in the rear view mirror for GA and SC, but most of the rest of the south has estrous activity down the road. Louisiana Biologist Chris Davis reports that the Bayou State has quite a variety of peak rut times across the state. The western portion, around Helena, and coastal St. Marys have already rutted, but the best is yet to come in the northeast part of the state, the eastern flood plain and along the Mississippi River and the “Florida boot.” Biologist Davis says that “the Florida Boot region is in pre-rut now and the peak should be the last week of December to early January. The cool weather has the bucks feeling frisky and making scrapes.”
X Factor:** The pre-rut is upon us in MS, FL, AR, AL, and LA. Grunting, rattling, and hunting scrapes and rubs are tactics that can be utilized now. Look for more rut signs to increase and more activity overall with the cold weather.