Overall Activity Status: Movement is sporadic, with some areas in full rut, some with light early chasing, and others only experiencing some residual rut activity. Numerous reports of chasing are coming in, but most involve younger bucks. Some hunters are complaining about the warm weather suppressing movement. The season is over in Arkansas. In Georgia, the season extends to January 15 in the southern zone and is limited to archery in the suburban Atlanta counties. South Carolina hunters can bowhunt until the end of February. Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama hunters are seeing some form of the rut at this time, and have many opportunities.
Fighting: Some bucks in the late-rut states of Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana are fighting. Competition for estrous does will often spur some head banging. A hunter in Alabama recently bagged a good buck with much of its beam broken off, likely from fighting.
Rub making: David Darnell of east central Mississippi is starting to see more rubbing. “I have seen a few rubs and lots of scrapes lately,” he reports. Bucks in late-rut regions are mainly looking for does and only occasionally stopping to rub.
Scrape making: In areas where the peak rut is a week or two away, hunters are seeing scrapes. A hunter from Wilson, Louisiana reports seeing some fresh scrapes and rubs and more rutting action. In north Bibb County, Alabama, a hunter is seeing scrapes go dormant with their rut kicking in gear. Peak rut areas will see less scraping, with bucks too busy dogging does.
Chasing: Reports from Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi about chasing are coming in. Some areas just have younger bucks following does, which indicates that the main event, which will get the mature bucks moving, is a week or two away. In Louisiana, hunters in St. Landry parish, LaFourche parish, and the St. James areas have all reported seeing bucks chasing does. Alabama hunters from Bibb, Shelby, and Jackson counties mention bucks are chasing does this week. Smaller bucks have been seen doing most of the chasing in the Trenton and Stevenson areas, with one hunter from Bibb County saying it’s “wide open.”
Daytime movement: If you’re in a peak rut area, there is activity day and night. Some Louisiana hunters are saying that the warm temperatures are causing most deer to move at night. “I have not personally seen any bucks chasing does,” said Mississippi’s David Darnell, who hunts in the east-central part of the state, “but a couple of hunting friends have recently. The rut should be kicking into high gear in this area real soon. Most of the acorns around here are gone. Deer are eating other natural foods and hitting the food plots.” In Florida, Trevor Fitzgerald of Southern Arrowhead Outfitters reports “the rut is on at our place. I have a hunt starting tomorrow. I will keep you posted.”
Estrous signs: Bucks chasing does is a good indicator that does are in heat or very close to it. A Jackson County, Alabama hunter saw three bucks dogging a doe, which would indicate that the doe was in estrus. For most of Alabama, Mississippi, and eastern Louisiana, the rut is here or very close and some does will be in and out of estrus in the next few weeks.
X-Factor: With most bucks on the move and looking for does, posting on a scrape or rub line may not be productive. Look for travel corridors, open fields, food plots, or any doe concentration area to find bucks on their feet.