Whitetail Hunting photo

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. 22: There’s an expression that the sun is always shining somewhere. In the South, the rut is always going on somewhere. While that’s not exactly true, the South does have a wide range of rutting patterns across the region.

If you have the time and money, you could be hunting the peak rut almost every week somewhere in the South from October to February. From South Carolina to Arkansas, every state and even areas within states range widely from when their does come into estrous and the bucks are wildly chasing them.

A few weeks ago we posted a trail camera video of a monster buck in Arkansas actually making a scrape. The buck, videoed at night, was given the nick-name “Split Ear” because of the crease in its right ear. Estimated at 160-class, every hunter at Wildlife Farms (870-241-3275) wanted this buck in his sights. One eventually did.

On December 9, Fred Buckner of New York State saw a doe go by only 15 minutes after dawn. Hot on her tail trotting behind was “Split Ear” and Buckner made the 50 yard shot and claimed the trophy (above). It was scored at 162 inches. That portion of Arkansas, around the town of Casscoe, has seen the peak rut come and go, but other areas of Arkansas still has the peak rut in their near future.


South Carolina has also seen its peak rut but is experiencing some sporadic secondary rut action. Florida’s rut is predicted to be in late January and even into February. Trevor Fitzgerald of Southern Arrowhead Outfitters reports the following: “We are seeing rubs and scrapes and some bucks are already scent-checking does. I expect the full moon January 19 will set things off for us. The third week of January is usually wide open rut for us and our deer will actually rut into February.” With the peak rut still being a month away for Florida hunters, Fitzgerald reports that they are still seeing and harvesting some good bucks however, as the hunter in the Gators sweatshirt shows here.

The rut in your neck of the woods may be in the past or future depending on which southern state you’re in. But somewhere in the South the rut is on or it’s close and that’s where you should be. Also keep in mind that even though it may not be the peak rut, you still can see and kill nice bucks if you hunt food sources and do your homework.