Overall activity status: If you can bear to be out in the frigid cold, you just might see some deer. There are numerous reports of good activity and rutting action in several areas, but this recent frigid front may slow some movement. Reports are scattered about movement and rut activity, with chasing in some areas.
Fighting: Some fighting is occurring in rut states. Alabama’s Andy Cobb has seen some sparring, but little else. “I saw a couple of 1.5-year-old bucks fighting, not sparring, but really going at it, pretty cool,” Cobb said. “Not seeing much chasing going on. I’m still seeing groups of does with no tending bucks.” Alabama, as well as Mississippi and parts of Florida and Louisiana, should be seeing more rutting overall in the weeks to come.
Rub and scrape making: Rut states Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana are seeing increasing scraping and rubbing. A hunter in Louisiana watched a 130-class 8-pointer make scrapes and rubs before eventually bagging him. A Baldwin County, Alabama hunter is seeing a few scrapes in his hunting area.
Chasing: Some areas are seeing chasing, be it the peak rut or the second rut. In Louisiana, Nick Sampey has altered his strategy. “There are bucks chasing for the second rut, but few and far between. I have stopped seeing deer on my regular stands and I’m working into food sources deeper in the woods,” Nick commented. A hunter in Colbert County, Alabama reports seeing some small bucks chasing, but the does are not quite ready yet.
Daytime movement: Also hunting in Louisiana, Brandon Rider feels that the bucks are rutting in his region. “I'm currently hunting in the eastern/central part of the state. I had a nice public land eight-point with a doe on December 26th. I was unable to get a shot with my bow. The rut is in full swing right now,” Brandon says. If you have hunting property in east central Louisiana, the rut is going on there now and deer will be moving well day and night.
Estrous signs: Some regions in Alabama and Florida are still weeks away from seeing estrous does, while Louisiana's Area 9 is hot now. "Getting reports of rut on in Area 9 here in Louisiana,” says Peter Signorelli. “A buddy killed an eight pointer and a six pointer on consecutive days, and passed on a third. Both weighed about 160 pounds.”
X factor: When the weather gets extremely cold, as it has this week, you have to alter your tactics. Deer need to conserve their energy and will stay near food sources and often move in the afternoon when it’s warmest. Look for deer bedded on sunny sides of hills, and on hillsides that block the wind.