Overall Activity Status: The late-rut states of Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and portions of Louisiana are experiencing excellent activity in most areas. Both the rut and cold temperatures are keeping deer moving, and many hunters are seeing and harvesting bucks.
Eleven-year-old Adam Kimble of Louisiana was hunting with his dad Toby during a cold spell the Monday before and had an exciting encounter. Toby describes the action: "At 5:40 p.m., Adam says, 'Look, Dad, there's a good buck!' It was cloudy and cold from the Arctic blast, and he was feeding in a plot with a doe. I glassed him and told Adam that it's a wide 8-pointer, and to use my rifle because it has better optics. He was pumped because it's a cannon, a Weatherby 30-378 magnum. I told him to get ready for the buck to turn. As I watched in my binoculars, the buck turned and I told him 'Take him." Well, he had never shot my rifle and he was scared it would kick him, but with muzzle brake, it's sweet. He finally figured the safety out and popped him. I watched the buck kick, and said 'You nailed him!' It was getting dark so I only waited 5 minutes and told him if the buck went far we would wait till morning, but as we walked 100 of the 180 yards I saw a white belly, It was a perfect shot through ribs."
The buck, shown below, was a 3½ year old typical eight point with a 17 inch spread, and weighed 196 pounds. The buck was up and moving during daylight hours and was feeding with a doe, which typically happens only during the rut.
See the "Daytime Movement" section below for more intel from Toby.
Fighting: Last week, John Donalson shared trail camera pictures showing a handsome buck breeding a doe.
Upon close inspection, you can see scars and scrapes on the buck's head and neck. With the rut peaking in those areas, bucks are getting into scuffles with other bucks over these estrous does. Look for this to continue for the next few weeks.
Donalson contacted me a few days after that post to share photos of the handsome buck, shown at top, that he had killed. "Got this 9 point today in Mitchell County, Georgia," John wrote. "Still in full rut. He is starting to get run down."
Rub/Scrape making: Bucks are always prone to making scrapes and rubs, but with the rut going on, many are wandering from their home areas to find does.
Chasing: Andy Cobb in Alabama is observing increased activity, including chasing. "We are seeing a lot of rut activity here in north Alabama in the last week. Several hunters I know have noted lots of chasing. One guy reports multiple bucks coming in to check out Tink's scent," Andy said.
Daytime Movement: Andy Kimble's father, Toby, had a memorable season last year when he bagged a 180-class buck after 500 hours on stand.
This year he hasn't seen the buck he's looking for yet. "It's off this year," Toby said. "A lot of 3½ year old bucks flirting with does, but no big boys moving anywhere in the swamp," said Toby.
In most areas where the rut is on, hunters are seeing bucks and good daytime movement. The bigger mature bucks will show themselves, if you're patient like Toby.
Estrous Signs: Donalson's shared trail camera pictures of the buck breeding a doe is proof positive that the rut is on in southwest Georgia. It's also hot in the other areas mentioned.
X Factor: The season is over in some southern states, and other states are close to the end. Overall it seemed to be a good deer season, and the forecast is positive. Toby Kimble made this final assessment: "Louisiana is on its way to being one of the biggest whitetail states in the south, if not the country, and the next generation and my son will be the ones to ensure it happens."