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: Alabama started its archery season Saturday, so most of the South has an open season of some sort now. Bama hunters, and most across the south, had morning temperatures in the mid-40s to low 50s, but were also sitting under a full moon.
Bowhunters from Alabama report fair movement overall, with does and some small bucks spotted. Some were passing on young bucks, holding out for an older one, while many were shooting does. Quite a few archers were hunting over falling acorns, which is a super tactic in mid-October. Georgia’s one-week muzzleloader season opened Saturday also. Reports on smokepoled bucks should be coming in soon.
Fighting: Some light sparring so far, nothing serious yet.
Rub making:** Rubs are popping up fairly regularly, with all bucks in hard-bone antler and the rut getting closer.
Scrape making: Some scrapes being seen, but not the serious ones that will be revisited closer to the rut. Still, they will reveal the presence of a buck in the area. Keep tabs on any scrape that is refreshened. I made a mock scrape that did not appear to have been visited over a week’s time. Either it’s in the wrong place or the deer just aren’t ready yet.
Chasing: Some bucks are checking out or harassing does, but rutting bucks chasing does in heat is a ways off for most southern whitetails.
Daytime movement: A full moon over the weekend limited some daytime movement by stimulating nighttime activity. But hunters were still seeing daytime movement and many deer are being seen and harvested.
Estrous signs: None yet. The rut is getting close in coastal portions of Georgia and South Carolina.
X Factor: With most southern woods being visited by bowhunters only, the hunting pressure is still relatively light. Deer are still moving naturally while feeding and traveling to food sources. As firearms seasons begin in the next few weeks, increased hunter traffic and pressure will start to have an affect on daytime movement. More hunting pressure will curtail deer movement during the day, especially mature bucks, until the rut.
*Acorns are a favorite whitetail food and a top food source to hunt over. Shown here, the larger ones are white oaks, the smaller ones are pin oaks.