Rut Reporter Eric Bruce has been writing about hunting and fishing for newspapers and magazines for 25 years and hunts deer all over the South, including near his Georgia home. States covered: AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, FL.
Oct. 18–Overall Activity Status: A brief cool spell that brought morning temperatures in the low 40s helped overall movement recently. The rut and related activity is still months away for Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Jake Utsey of Water Valley Lodge in Alabama reports very dry conditions and a serious drought. Young bucks are still in groups and making most of the rubs and scrapes. Acorn crop is scarce with deer feeding mainly on grasses. Georgia is in the pre- pre-rut with increased rubbing and scraping being seen, but still a week or two away from the intense activity. A hunter in middle Georgia (Rockdale Co.) observed a 130-class ten-pointer work a scrape and licking branch last week. Pre-rut with all the associated activities is just around the corner.
Fighting: Nothing yet.
Rubs:** Rubs are being seen more and more throughout the south. The young bucks have been rubbing mainly but the older bucks are beginning to work on some trees.
Scrapes: Scrapes are also becoming more common. Most are casual in nature without much revisiting or urinating in them, but that is starting to change. A few scattered reports of bucks working scrapes are beginning to surface.
Chasing: Jimmy Haskins of Bostick Plantation in South Carolina reports that a 16-inch 8-pointer was chasing a doe when it was killed by a hunter.Haskins said that the buck smelled strong with dark hocks with urine running down its legs. South Carolina’s rut is typically late October and they are in the pre-rut stage already. No chasing was reported in any other states.
Daytime Movement:** Daytime movement is picking up sporadically in some areas. It has picked up significantly in South Carolina. Recent cooler weather has also increased buck movement.
Estrous Signs: Does are getting very close to estrus in South Carolina with the peak rut being about ten days away in coastal regions, according to Haskins. No estrous signs are observed in other states.
X Factor:** While the rut is still weeks and months away in the various southeastern states, it is pre-rut in coastal portions of South Carolina. Reports of increased morning movement, scrapes, and rubs are popping up. Hunters can begin hunting rut sign and employing rut hunting tactics such as scents and rattling in preparation for the rut. Haskins believes that the peak rut typically occurs three days after the full moon in October which is the 23rd.