Rut activity is rampant in some parts of the South, particularly northern Alabama. Consider the recent observations and activities of Alabama hunter Jared Byrd. He hunts in Madison County and has had some run-ins with some bruiser bucks lately.
Byrd saw what he estimated to be a 160-class buck a few weeks ago. After seeing the buck chase a doe into a patch of woods, Byrd sneaked in to wait him out. “After about six hours of lying on my stomach,” Byrd recalls, “I heard antlers crashing, and the big buck later ran and ended up way too far for any kind of shot. Then I heard running, and looked up and a smaller buck came running out right in front of me spinning in tight circles and twitching his neck. He then fell down with snot spraying out of his nose. Then he never moved. I called my Dad and he came and we walked up. It was dead. One side of his antler base was very loose and actually had a hole in his head behind it. His neck couldn't twist all the way around [because] it was broken. It was amazing. That buck was around 16 inches wide!”
The doe had to have been in estrus and the big buck was ready and willing to fight for her. From Byrd’s account, it must have been quite a fight with the smaller buck getting mortally wounded. That’s the type of buck behavior that only the peak rut will bring out.
Then Byrd encountered another buck just a few days ago.
After getting on his stand in the afternoon, Byrd sat for only ten minutes when it started sleeting. He decided to do some still-hunting so he got down and started. He encountered a trespasser that he made leave the property, and then changed his route. Byrd tells the story:
“So after that I decided to walk to the berm of our reservoir to see if any deer were around. I saw two so I looked through my binoculars and saw a doe and a big-bodied deer. Then the big body lifted up his head. It wasn't the beast I saw a few weeks ago, but I knew it was a shooter. So I threw off my toboggan, binoculars and scope cover and began to belly crawl through that wet sticky clay. After about 50 yards I had the high ground. He was facing me and as soon as he barely began to turn, I pulled the trigger. He kicked and ran ten yards to the woods. I knew I made a good heart shot. I called my Pa and brother to come experience the track with me. It was amazing because not three minutes after I shot, the sleet turned into huge snowflakes. What a beautiful evening. So we went to the woods where I saw him enter and the first thing I noticed was a Coke-can-sized tree broken completely not a foot of the ground, and five yards from it there he lay. I aged him at 6 years old.
“The rut here is going pretty hard,” Byrd continues. “I saw a small buck chasing a doe in mid- November, but on my land it's going heavy right now. Although, the buck I shot the other day was standing ten yards from a doe and wasn't bothering her. He may have already bred her.” Byrd’s buck had twelve points but three of the tines were broken off. The trophy weighed in at 180 pounds field-dressed. “He was an old Alabama bruiser,” Byrd said.
These kind of experiences can happen during the rut while you're in the woods—and they're rutting in most of Mississippi and Alabama, and parts of Louisiana and Florida.