Overall Activity Status: The humid, warm, rainy weather has put a serious damper on deer hunting across the South. Temperatures as high as the 70s are unusual in December even in this part of the country, and it has slowed activity. It’s post-rut in Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas, bucks are worn down, so hunters there aren’t seeing a lot of movement.
But activity is picking up some in the pre-rut states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama. While the deer are becoming more active with some early rut action, the warm muggy weather has prevented activity from accelerating.
Fighting: Pre-rut bucks typically get involved in antler banging and expect it to happen more in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. A hunter in central Mississippi reported seeing some bucks running together and some fighting.
Rub and Scrape making: Scrapes and rubs are on the increase in pre-rut states, but it has been spotty in some areas. While some hunters are seeing more and more rubs and scrapes, some are reporting just a few here and there, or even none. Ground pawing should increase as we get closer to the rut and when cooler weather returns.
Chasing: Not much chasing is being reported yet. Most hunters in Alabama and Mississippi expect chasing to commence around Christmas week.
Daytime Movement: Louisiana’s Peter Signorelli and his hunting comrades are having some action, but it is starting out slow and the rut seems still weeks away. This week he shot a 2 ½ year old six-pointer. “He came out the same place two does were about an hour before,” said Peter. “His tarsal glands were still clean.” Look for daytime movement to pick up with cooler weather and as the calendar gets closer to Christmas.
Estrous signs: We should me seeing more does in estrus in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana soon. There are fewer estrous does in Georgia now, but there are still some, as Matt Barksdale knows.
He’s had a dream season if there ever was one. He killed a 130-inch Pope & Young eight-pointer on the second day of Georgia’s archery season in mid-September. He continued hunting and had numerous encounters with other trophy bucks. But in late November, the downside of the rut for Georgia, Matt scored on an even bigger buck in Worth County.
Matt recounts his incredible season. “I continued to hunt hard and on the morning of November 25, I had an encounter with the biggest buck I’ve ever harvested. It was a very cold windy day with winds 10-15 mph. Around 8:30 a.m., I had had about enough. I hadn’t seen a deer yet and was about to get down. Just then about a 130″ 8-pointer came through chasing a doe. I decided I better try and ride it out a little longer. During the next hour I saw two more bucks chasing. At 10:00 I had decided to get down. While gathering my stuff I looked up and saw the big one about 75 yards away at a trot with his head down. I tried to stop the buck with several bleats, the last couple at the top of my lungs, but he was not hearing it. I finally decided it was now or never. I put the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed off. I felt confident with the buck at 75 yards that I could make the moving shot. The buck ran about 50 yards and piled up,” said Barksdale The giant 11-pointer scored around 164 inches gross, and was taken because he was out chasing does.
X-Factor: Despite the warm muggy weather, deer still eat, and being out there is the only way to see one. If your vacation days are limited, save them for cool weather later and when the rut kicks in.