The Palmetto State whitetail rut normally takes place the first two weeks in November. But in recent years unseasonably warm autumns have delayed rutting bucks and actually prolonged the rut until cool weather arrives later in the season. With that in mind, hunters wanting a good chance at a nice buck should be in the woods as much as possible, and don't be surprised if weather conditions don't turn on rutting bucks until well into December. Charles Ruth, deer project supervisor for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, says the Western and Central Piedmont public hunt units should be among the best bets for bucks during the rut. The Western and Central Piedmont hunt units encompass 18 counties, and there are thousands of acres of public hunting land available. Prime counties, according to Ruth, are Edgefield, McCormick and Abbeyville in the Western Piedmont and Newberry and Fairfield in the Central Piedmont. For a better-than-average buck, try Saluda and Greenwood counties. Part of the Sumter National Forest also is in the Central Piedmont unit, and the forest has a high deer population. Contact: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (803-734-3838); Sumter National Forest headquarters, Columbia (803-561-4000).