National Report: Déjà Vu in the South

Rut Reporter Scott Bestul is a Field & Stream's Whitetails columnist and writes for the website's Whitetail365 blog. The Minnesotan has taken 13 Pope & Young-class whitetails and has hunted, guided for, and studied deer in the north-central region all his life. States covered: IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, WI.

With deer seasons winding down across the country, our reporters from the south are the last men standing for this year's rut report. Eric Bruce did a nice job detailing the rut progression in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama, where hunters are witnessing rut behavior seen by their brothers in the north a full two months ago. In those three states the rut is just cranking up, with scrapes and rubs just now appearing, and young bucks charged with testosterone anxious to get things started.

Every year this phenomenon of eager young bucks reminds me of a conversation I had with University of Georgia's Karl Miller regarding the rut. "Older bucks simply approach the breeding season more like gentlemen," he said. "Young bucks are running around like teenagers at their first party. But older bucks are simply more experienced and ready to wait until does are ready before they plunge in."

I relate these words because they have personal meaning for me this year. I've been invited to hunt Alabama next month, and my host urged me to time my visit for late in January. Trust me, reading the southern rut reports has me chomping at the bit to get down to 'Bama and get hunting, but Miller's analogy and my host's advice has me taking a deep breath and biding my time. Of course, neither the renowned biologist nor my gracious friend realize that, while killing a nice buck would be wonderful, my main motivation for the trip is to escape the northern winter for a few glorious days!