Bruce: Rut Split in South

Rut Reporter Eric Bruce has been writing about hunting and fishing for newspapers and magazines for 25 years and hunts … Continued

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.

Nov. 30–Overall Activity Status: The South is in an “in-between” stage overall in regard to the rut. Georgia and South Carolina are at the tail end of their ruts, while Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana are still about a month away from their peak action. Activity is often dictated by the weather here with warm temperatures slowing things down and the recent cold front increasing deer sightings.
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Fighting:** Most fighting in GA and SC has diminished as the rut slows down. Light sparring is increasing in other states as the rut approaches. Steve McKenna of the McKenna Ranch in Mississippi [601-727-4926] reports that his younger bucks are practicing at sparring.

Rubs: Mississippi bucks are rubbing trees, marking trails, and fighting with overhead limbs, according to McKenna. Other states (AL, FL, AR, LA) are seeing some rubbing which is expected to increase as they approach the pre-rut.

Scrapes: Pawing dirt in Georgia and South Carolina has decreased quite a bit since their rut is slowing down. But in Arkansas and Mississippi, the scraping is on the up-turn as they are the next closest to the pre-rut. Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama are a few weeks away from serious scraping.

Chasing: Some late chasing is occurring in Georgia and South Carolina but it is decreasing while it is increasing in Arkansas and Alabama. Jake Utsey of Water Valley Lodge in Alabama [251-843-3168] reports bucks with wet dark hocks and many young bucks being active, but most of the active aggressive chasing is a month away.

Daytime Movement: Deer activity is dependent on two primary factors in the South during the fall: the rut and the weather. A major cold front blew through the South last week bringing temperatures in the low 30’s which spurred movement. States that are close to the rut (AR, AL, MS) are also seeing more activity related to the impending rut. Alabama’s Water Valley Lodge has harvested four bucks in the 120-130 inch range so far this season.
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Estrous Signs:** Most does have been bred in Georgia and South Carolina, with some early-born fawns coming into estrus late. In Alabama, Utsey has observed that some breeding has already occurred, but the main rut is still a month away as it is in the other states.
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X Factor:** The major cold front that blew across the south the last week of November generated much whitetail movement. Another rain front has moved through this week, which will again bring colder temperatures and increased activity. Pre-rut conditions are just around the corner for several southern states.