Overall activity Status: "It's firing up, within the last week it's like the woods has come alive with deer activity," says Shane Dempsey, who hunts in northern Alabama. In that region, and in Mississippi and portions of Louisiana, the rut is either here or very close. Peak rut varies in these states by a few weeks, but it typically occurs during the month of January. Look for high levels of activity to continue. The peak rut is mostly over in Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina.
Rub and scrape making: Bucks in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama will be rubbing and scraping more and more as the days go by and the rut approaches. Dempsey is noticing more horned trees and scrapes in Alabama. "My cameras show an increase in daylight buck activity," adds Dempsey.
Chasing: Numerous reports confirm that the chase is on in Alabama, Mississippi, and portions of Louisiana. Dempsey reports good buck movement and some chasing. "My Dad saw a 130-class 8-pointer following a doe yesterday but was unable to get a shot. He said it wasn't chasing, but staying close as if he was waiting for her to come into heat. In parts of north Alabama, though, it's wide open, deer are chasing. The last 30 days of the season should produce some exciting action and big bucks."
Daytime movement: Nathan Blount hunts public land in east-central Mississippi and is having an excellent season by anyone's standard. He has already bagged three bucks, including the 12-pointer above on the Saturday before Christmas.
Hunting with his Tikka T3 Lite .300 WSM in 65-degree temperatures, he encountered deer as soon as he got set. "I arrived at my spot about 6:15 a.m. and had deer blowing at me downwind shortly after," says Blount. "About 6:30 I heard deer running behind me in some thick pines, but it was still too dark in the pines to see them. I was waiting for them to step out on a trail below me. but they never did. I thought they were long gone until one blew at me after about eight minutes of silence. I turned back around and it was finally light enough to make out a deer. I scoped it in to see a doe. She blew at me once again and took a couple leaps. I let down my gun and noticed movement behind where she had been standing. I scoped the other deer and was surprised to see a buck with antlers about as wide as his ears. Couldn't tell much else about him, but immediately knew he was a shooter and I downed him at about 50 yards. There wasn't any ground shrinkage; after I put the tape on him he was nearly 15 inches larger than I initially thought." Nathan's buck was a 132-inch, 12-point trophy that became vulnerable by staying with the doe into the daylight hours.
Estrous signs: Bucks chasing does hard is a good indicator of estrous does, and that is what we're seeing in Mississippi and Alabama. "I first started seeing some cruising action on the evening of the 20th," says Blount. "I saw three single young bucks that evening, all cruising. The 12-point I killed on the 21st was the first buck I saw with a doe. The evening of the 22nd, I saw a decent buck on his feet at 3:30 p.m. On the 23rd I killed a decent 7-point cruising by himself. My hunt on the 24th resulted in the first hard chase of the season, with a decent buck grunting as he ran a panting doe. That same day I killed a nice 123-inch 10-point at 2:00 p.m. to finish my limit. So no doubt the rut is kicking into full gear here! And all this took place on public land."