_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: Despite some warm temperatures and a full moon, movement has been excellent because of the rut. Reports abound of bucks chasing does and have been seen cruising, as the rut is here in most areas. Mike Files, who hunts in Arkansas near the Ozark National Forest, says “it’s going on pretty good now in the whole state.” Alabama and Florida are still waiting on their rut, but most of the south is seeing good movement and action, while mature bucks are being seen and harvested.
Fighting: Some fighting going on, with bucks vying for the same doe. Dominant bucks will be chasing off smaller bucks, and comparable-size bucks will be contesting over a doe. I rattled Sunday morning and two small bucks showed up. They butted heads off and on. Some hunters may be seeing knock-down-drag-out fights if two mature bucks are after the same hot doe.
Rub making: Not much interest in making rubs now as bucks are focusing on chasing and breeding does. Bucks will on occasion stop to make a rub out of frustration or show dominance around other bucks. You will see rubs pop up here and there, but it’s no guarantee that they’re still around, likely passing through en route to pursuing does.
Scrape making: Same as rub making, bucks are concentrating on chasing does and most have abandoned the tending of scrapes–there is only spotty scrape-making now. Areas where the rut is not in yet such as Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi are the exception.
Chasing:** We are at the peak of chasing right now. Most hunters spending any time in the woods will see some chasing. Mike Files of Arkansas reports that he killed an 11-pointer on their opening day, that was visiting a food plot looking for does. He also saw an 8-pointer and a 7-pointer later that after a doe in the plot. A young girl in southern Arkansas killed a good 10-pointer that was chasing a doe.
Peak chasing for Alabama and Florida is still down the road.
Daytime movement:** All deer are moving well during the day and night. When a buck catches scent of a doe in heat, they’ll pursue regardless of the time of day. Be out there as much as possible to maximize chances of seeing a buck chasing a doe or looking for one.
Estrous signs: Signs for estrous does abound as most of the south is at the peak of the rut. David Hendrix was hunting Elbert county, Georgia last week and killed a super wide 8-pointer that was following a doe. The bulk of does are just on the verge, in heat, or just out of heat right now.