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Photo Galleries

  • Giant Buck Alert: Kansas 18-Point Gross Scores 194
  • 199-Inch Wisconsin Monster Buck
  • Biggest Pure Kentucky 8-Pointer Ever Measured
  • New World Record 8-Point Whitetail
  • A Bizarre 23-Point Maryland Buck
Real-Time Updates From Our Rut Reporters
  • December 24, 2013

    Big Buck Alert: Another Pending Louisiana Record

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    By Eric Bruce

    The Mississippi and Louisiana rut is heating up like a chestnut roasting on an open fire. The rut is in high gear, and mature bucks are being seen and killed.

    As reported here, a giant buck was taken in Louisiana on November 9 by Jason Archer. The 210-inch trophy from Concordia Parish that may be the next Louisiana state record. But now that potential record is being challenged by another monster buck taken last Friday, December 20 (photo courtesy of LouisianaSportsman.com). Alex LeBlanc headed to his stand in the early afternoon in warm, humid, and windy weather--not exactly ideal whitetail hunting conditions, but as most experienced hunters know, anything can happen during the rut.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 24, 2013

    End of Deer Season: It's Time to Get Out There

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    By Brandon Ray

    Overall Activity Status: We are near the end of deer season. In Texas’ north zone, the general season ends on January 5. In South Texas, the season ends January 19. In Oklahoma, bow season ends January 15. It’s time to make time to get to the woods before it is over.

    Fighting: I’ve watched a couple of bucks around corn feeders lower their heads at each other and spar a little, but it’s mostly an older buck showing a younger buck who is boss and it only lasts a few seconds. Lots of reports of broken antlers in the northern half of the region on post-rut bucks.

    Rub Making: Old sign at this point in the season.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 20, 2013

    Late-Rut Regions Are Hot and Getting Hotter

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    By Eric Bruce

    Overall Activity Status: Deer continue to move well in most areas, particularly in the rut-active states of Alabama and Mississippi, and in some portions of Florida and Louisiana. A good rut-hunt story comes out of this last state from Trent McIntosh, who invited his friend, Brent Pharis, to hunt with him on his lease last weekend.

    The two were hunting on the Red River near Benton, in the northwest part of Louisiana. With the right weather and wind, they headed for their stands. Trent describes the action: "Bucks started chasing in early November here and were hot and heavy by mid-November. So judging by that and my trail cam pics, we figured we should be right in the middle of second swing of rutting. Combine that with the deer really starting to hit the corn hard since most of the acorns are now gone, [it all made] for some pretty good conditions." The morning hunt was unsuccessful, so Trent switched Brent to another stand.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 20, 2013

    Cooler Temps, Waning Nighttime Moon Should Mean Better Daytime Movement

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    By Brandon Ray

    December 17 was the peak of the full moon this month. I snapped the above photo around 7:30 a.m. on that day. The moon was sinking, and a few minutes after I took the picture, it disappeared behind the horizon. I was up most of the previous night because that spotlight in the sky was shining through my bedroom window. The yard was lit up like it was high noon. Imagine what that means to wildlife navigating after sunset.

    The afternoon before, I'd hunted a familiar blind off the river. I had been hoping the big 8-point I'd seen in the same area on December 15, from a mile away through a spotting scope, would revisit that blind. Four other bucks showed up between 3:30 and 5:45, all familiar faces with broken racks, but no sign of the old 8-point with the big brow tines.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • Look Back, Look Ahead…But Keep Hunting

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    By Scott Bestul

    The hunting season is winding down for many of you, and this is the final week of rut reporting for most of us. It's a natural time to reflect. I'm already scanning back through many of our reports and looking for information that will help me next fall.

    I've kept a personal hunting journal for years because it helps me understand deer in my area better. South Central reporter Brandon Ray also keeps a log (which he described in a recent post) for the same reason. I encourage you to do the same, not only for the insight it contains but also because it serves as a unique, living history document. But don't forget that you can use our entire fall's worth of rut reports in a similar way—as a big-picture record for your entire region.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 18, 2013

    In Post-Rut Areas, Bucks Are After the Eats

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    By Eric Bruce

    If you live in the post-rut states of Arkansas, Georgia, or South Carolina, most of the buck movement and activity is over, and it can be tough to see a buck. There is some late second-rut action, but that can be spotty and very tough to predict. Your best bet is to hunt near thick cover and especially around food sources. Bucks have depleted their reserves after the rut and will be looking for plentiful and nutritious food sources.

    The acorns on the oak ridges and hillsides in October are mostly gone by December. However there may still be some nuts lying under the leaves. A few areas that I have scouted recently had evidence of deer rooting around in oak leaves, looking for remaining acorns. They desperately want acorns to eat, but they're scarce. Most deer are willing to search for them under the leaves and you may find a late season buck looking for some.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 17, 2013

    Final Report: What I learned from the 2013 Deer Season

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    By Will Brantley

    So here we are at the end of another deer season and another year of rut reporting. Thirty reports. Man do they ever go by fast. The Rut Report has become one of my favorite gigs as an outdoor writer because I've learned so much from it. It's like keeping a journal on the season, full of photos and added input from other hunters across the region. At the end of every season, it seems I learn several new things, too. Here's what tops the list from this year.

    Spotty Mast Equals Later Rut: With the exception of some localized areas, the mast crop was spotty across the Mid-South this year, and virtually non-existent in some places. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 17, 2013

    The Rut is on in South Texas

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    By Brandon Ray

    Overall Activity Status: Zach Waterman, public relations manager for Nosler, hunted north Texas during the recent frigid conditions and took the buck below. The 4 ½-year-old scored 132 B&C, but you can see this buck was not about score—the deer had 10 ½-inch brow tines. Waterman used a prototype Nosler custom rifle to take the animal.

    Fighting: In South Texas, fighting is common now and rattling and grunt calls could lure a trolling buck within range.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 16, 2013

    Survivors on the Move in Overlooked Places

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    By Will Brantley

    With gun seasons in the rearview across most of the Mid-South and the bulk of this year's deer harvest already in the books, it can feel a little hopeless heading to the woods right now with an unfilled buck tag. The hardest truth is that there are fewer deer alive in the woods right now than at any other time of year. Quite a few of them are packaged up and in freezers. Those that have survived have been jumped from their bedding areas and shot at over food sources. In case you haven't read The Total Deer Hunter Manual, deer don't like that stuff.

    But there's no need to be completely depressed. The buck in the photo above, for example, began showing up on my trail camera around the first of December, more than a week after Kentucky's gun season closed. And although he hasn't been an "every day" buck, he has been making fairly regular appearances at my corn feeder ever since he found it. Him aside, a big 8-pointer we've been hunting since September is still alive and well, too.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 16, 2013

    Scout Harder to Tag a Winter-Pattern Buck

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    By Scott Bestul

    Overall Activity: Whitetails are now in winter mode across much of the region; bucks and does are hitting high-quality feed ahead of the long cold season. Frigid weather and snow have kept overall activity fairly high.

    Fighting: No fights to report. In fact, several hunters I’ve talked to have seen bucks traveling together in small bachelor groups. Young bucks are still keeping a safe distance from mature animals as they feed, though. The pecking order is never totally forgotten.

    Rub Making: My neighbor and avid bowhunter Dave Olson reported several fresh rubs on a recent scouting mission. All the rubs were made within the last week and occurred in a staging area off a farm field. [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 13, 2013

    Right Now, the Rut is Where You Find It

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    By Eric Bruce

    Overall Activity Status: The roller-coaster ride of weather patterns in the last few weeks has affected deer activity. There have been frigid cold snaps, humid warm temperatures, and rain fronts. Overall, movement is decent, but much depends on the weather when you are in the woods. We're in pre-rut in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida and are getting close to the rut in many of these areas, which increases activity.

    The rut can vary as much as the weather does. Brandon Rider hunts in Louisiana and had this to say: "I hunt three different rut activities in the state of Louisiana. I start off hunting in southwest Louisiana and the rut is on at the end of October to the third week in November. Then I head up north around Jackson/ Bienville Parishes of Louisiana and their rut is from the end of November till the third week of December. And now I am hunting 30 miles from my house near the Mississippi River Delta. Those deer are just starting to turn on. The bucks were in bachelor groups a week ago and now they're just starting to turn into the rutting phase, and it'll go to the middle of January hard," said Rider.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 12, 2013

    Notes on the Season so Far

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    By Brandon Ray

    On the afternoon of December 10, I sat a familiar blind just off a river corridor. The temperature was in the 40s, warmer than it had been in a week, but the brisk 20 mph wind sent tears down my face.

    The first visitor was a large black hog that ambled down the creek until he was 60 yards away, downwind. He stopped like he'd hit a brick wall, snout twitching in the air. Then he growled like a bear and swapped ends. I wished for a scoped rifle instead of my bow.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 12, 2013

    Cold Temps Could Mean a Good Secondary Rut

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    By Mike Bleech

    How interesting and mysterious are the ways of the rut. The differences between the 2012 rut and the 2013 rut make me wonder if there is ever an average, or typical year. Neither rut was what we might term typical, and the two years were very much unalike.

    This year, one characteristic that stood out when looking at our Northeast Region as a whole, was the low numbers of rubs and scrapes. This was not the case everywhere, but it did seem to be the case in most places, according to my contacts. Some visitors here also commented on the low number of rubs and scrapes.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • December 11, 2013

    Cold Weather Brings Buck Patterns Full Circle

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    By Scott Bestul

    Remember back to the first rut reports of the 2013 deer season? Whitetail bucks were on a bed-to-feed pattern, and we hunted them mostly in the afternoons, in and around food sources. We read sign, observed deer, made educated guesses about the best spots to ambush them, and waited for the right wind directions and weather conditions to do so.

    Well, we're right back to that. Except it's colder. Much colder. Cold enough that my family offers no sympathy when I come in from a hunt and whine about frozen digits. "If you're stupid enough to sit in a tree when the wind chill is minus 20, don't complain to us…."

    [ Read Full Post ]

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