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.
Dec. 14–Overall Activity Status:** The rut is peaking in Arkansas and on the verge in Alabama. Pre-rut conditions are here in Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Extremely cold temperatures have forced deer to move in order to feed and breed. Rut activity is rampant in most southern states.
I was told of this 160-class buck taken in Lousiana by Preston White; will try to get more details and photos and report back.
Fighting:** Some fighting is happening in Arkansas where the rut is on. Much sparring, mainly from younger bucks, is ongoing throughout the other states that are in pre-rut.
Rubs: Pre-rut conditions typically spur increased rubbing, which is the case in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. Arkansas bucks are doing more chasing than rubbing as their rut is happening now. Daniel Barnett of Wildlife Farms in Arkansas [870-241-3275] reports that they have a trail camera picture of a big buck rubbing on a tree that is twelve inches in diamater.
Scrapes:** Scrapes should be on the increase in rut and pre-rut states. Barnett said that they were seeing lots of scrapes, then it slacked off some during a warm spell, and now they are again seeing lots of scrapes.
Chasing: “Some bucks are chasing does, but its not real heavy yet,” says Jake Utsey of Water Valley Lodge in Alabama [251-843-3168]. Utsey says that they are seeing lots of deer and activity but their rut will peak after Christmas. In Arkansas, Barnett said “it’s on big time now, it’s really getting right.”
Daytime Movement:** The precipice of the rut in most states and the extreme cold temperatures has the deer moving. Barnett reports that people are seeing bucks chasing does across roads and hunters are seeing it from their stands. Utsey also reports significant deer activity at their Alabama property. Deer are moving day and night with the rut but daylight feeding has also increased.
Estrous Signs: Some does are in heat in Alabama and many bucks have dark stained hocks, according to Utsey. Barnett is seeing bucks chasing does in heat all over as their rut is raging in Arkansas. Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi bucks are close to the rut and bucks are harassing does that aren’t quite ready yet.
X Factor:** The time is prime to hunt big bucks in rut-ripe Arkansas. Grab a gun and be in the woods if you have a place to hunt in Arkansas, where gun season lasts till December 20, then reopens Dec. 26-28.