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.
Overall Activity Status: From numerous accounts, deer are moving well as the rut approaches in most areas. Hunters are out in force and many deer are being harvested. Buck sign is popping up regularly. Best activity times remain early morning, dusk, and after a weather front.
Fighting: A deer processor in Georgia reports a buck brought in that had scars and gashes on its head and neck area from fighting. In areas of pre-rut conditions, rattling may work as bucks are getting frisky.
Rub making: Scraped up saplings are being seen regularly, particularly in pre-rut states. Hunters in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia are reporting rubs throughout their hunting areas.
Scrape making: I saw numerous fresh scrapes on one tract of Georgia land recently. Hunters in Arkansas and Louisiana are also seeing scrapes. Now is a good time to post over a scrape if your area is in pre-rut. Bucks may re-visit them now but are less likely during the rut when they’ll be chasing.
Chasing: A hunter in Walton County, Georgia reported seeing a ten-pointer chasing a doe in a field. The buck seemed concerned about the hunter watching from his car (on his way to work) but would not leave the doe. Some does may be coming into heat early, but most are still a few weeks away. But the bucks are definitely interested.
Daytime movement: Daytime movement is decent despite warmer temperatures during the week. With falling acorns and the bucks becoming closer to the rut, many deer are moving during daylight. A hunter in Oberlin, Louisiana bagged the super-wide 22.5-inch spread buck shown here that was known about in the area for years. Other hunters in the area had trail cam pics of him, though mainly at night. He was thought to be nocturnal, but was taken during the day this week.
Estrous signs: The fact that a few bucks have been seen chasing does indicates some early estrous signs, but the peak is still a few weeks away for many states. In south Florida and coastal Georgia and South Carolina, the rut is on and does are in estrous.
X Factor: Cooler weather and increased hunter pressure will affect deer movement. Many gun seasons are open now and more hunters are in the woods. More buck sign will be seen, but mature bucks may go undercover. Hunt scrapes and rublines if you have pre-rut conditions in your area.