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.


This past week I’ve been on several hunts and saw both does and small bucks. I haven’t seen a mature buck yet, though some hunters have, with the rut still being weeks away in my home state of Georgia.

What I have noticed is that the smaller bucks were around the does, but not really with them. It seemed as though they happened to cross paths at a common intersection or feeding area, and likely did not leave or travel together.

The small bucks, which appeared to be 1.5 year olds, showed some interest in the does, but the feelings were not mutual. In one instance, the buck briefly ran at the does, which bolted for cover, then they all resumed feeding.

On two of those hunts this week while watching the young bucks, I got out my grunt call and tooted it at the boys. In both cases, their heads jerked up and they stared intently in my direction. They changed courses and walked my direction, but eventually lost interest as I stopped calling and they did not see another buck.

Bubba Garrett of Arkansas had a similar experience with a grunt call– but with a more favorable outcome– while hunting in Union County last week with his new compound bow. Set up in a blind overlooking a slough, he spotted a buck moving through a thicket and feeding on French mulberry.

Garrett describes the scenario: “He was headed away from me so I thought I would try a grunt call. I called 3 or 4 times and he stopped and turned around facing me. After a short time, he started towards me and about 50 yards out he stopped and was looking. I grunted two times quietly, and he dropped his head and came dead at me.

This being the first opportunity at a buck with my bow, my nerves were flying wildly, each time he walked by a tree I moved my bow into position or actually from laying in my lap to vertical. He was walking dead at me at 30 yards and then he turned to the right, I squatted, drew back and released on him. The arrow went in behind the shoulder and into his spine, he dropped in his tracks.”