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.
Jan. 4–Overall Activity Status: The rut is “wide open” in parts of Mississippi, according to Jimmy Riley of Giles Island near Natchez (877-944-5374; gilesisland.com), who sent a photo of a recent buck. Alabama and parts of Louisiana are also nearing the peak of the rut. Florida is heating up but is a week or two away from the height of the action.
Fighting: Bucks are fighting in states where the rut is on. Mississippi and Alabama are seeing antler-crashing on bucks competing for does.
Rubs: Rubs are seen all around in MS, FL, AL, LA, and AR, as it is pre-rut or rut.
Scrapes: “Bucks are not busy pawing the ground but sniffing the air,” says Riley. “They’re not stopping long except to smell a branch.” Expect most bucks in rut states to also be looking for does more than leaving scrape sign.
Chasing: Some Alabama and Mississippi bucks are on the move looking for or chasing does. Riley is seeing significant buck movement with their rut being wide open.
Daytime Movement: Movement is excellent for states in rut or pre-rut. Deer are active in their pursuit of each other and the cold temperatures have only helped the increased activity.
Estrous Signs:** Definite signs of does in heat in Mississippi, Alabama. and parts of Louisiana and Arkansas, and starting to see more in Florida. Most estrous action in GA and SC is over except for sparse secondary activity.
X Factor:** From now through the next few weeks is the time to hunt in Mississippi and Alabama, as the rut is in high gear.