Bruce: Signs of the Pre-Rut

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.

Just like much of the country was gearing up for the rut in late October, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama are in the pre-rut phase right now. The excitement and anticipation of the upcoming rut is upon hunters from those states as the rut edges closer and closer. Typical pre-rut behavior by bucks is being seen in the woods now in these areas.

A hunter in Benton County, Mississippi commented that he grunted in an 8 pointer last week and is seeing lots of fresh rubs and scrapes. Another hunter in the Alcorn area has observed young bucks chasing and increasing fresh scrapes. Likewise a Chickasaw county hunter is seeing young bucks chasing. As is common in the pre-rut phase, the eager inexperienced young bucks will be out chasing and harassing the does even though most of them are not ready yet.

The older and wiser mature bucks are still waiting for the actual rut when the does are in estrus. Instead of exposing themselves unnecessarily and burning energy, the mature and bigger bucks are waiting for the prime time. These older bucks will be hanging out in thickets and laying down some rut sign at night. Much of the rubs and scrapes being seen now are from younger bucks, but it's still possible to catch an older buck making sign during daylight if you're fortunate enough.

Mississippi hunters are anticipating increased rutting activity starting around Christmas and continuing into February. That is true with Florida also, particularly the panhandle section. Trevor Fitzgerald of Blountstown, Florida, 35 miles west of Tallahassee, has seen the rut in his area heat up in late January and into February, but is seeing rubbing and scraping now.