Bruce: A Tale of Two Ruts

_Rut Reporter Eric Bruce has been writing about hunting and fishing for newspapers and magazines for 25 years and hunts … Continued

_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.
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Overall Activity Status: It’s the tale of two divergent scenarios here in the South. Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Louisiana ruts are winding down, while Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi ruts are just getting started. Movement in post-rut states is slowing down. Mike Files hunts in south-central Arkansas and reports that their rut appears over and that movement has died. In their large hunting club over the last three days, Files said they “could hardly see a deer.” They have hopes for second rut activity.

Fighting: Very little fighting is being reported. In post-rut areas, most does have been bred and bucks are tuckered out. Pre-rut states are seeing some sparring with bucks breaking up from bachelor groups and establishing their pecking order through postering and sparring.

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Rub making: Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida bucks are beginning to rub more trees. Trevor Fitzgerald of Southern Arrowhead Outfitters (888-597-3495) in the Florida panhandle says “we are starting to see rubs and the bucks are splitting up out off their bachelor groups. The bucks are feeding real heavy now getting ready for the rut.”

Scrape making: Scrapes are appearing in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi as bucks are entering pre-rut. More and more pawed-out areas along ridges, wooded roads, and field edges are showing up and hunters can begin getting an idea where bucks are concentrating. Post-rut states are seeing very little scraping, but some late rut action may still be around. Last Saturday I observed a young 8-pointer working an overhanging branch over a scrape, so posting near an active scrape may still work in Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

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Chasing:** Being between ruts in the southern states, most chasing is in the past or future depending on your area. There is still a possibility of late or second rut chasing in Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida chasing is still a few weeks away. Alabama hunter Shane Dempsey, however, is seeing otherwise:

“Our rut generally doesn’t get hot until mid-January, but honestly this year has been different. My Dad shot a 120-inch 9-point last weekend (11/26/2011) chasing does and 15 minutes prior to that my brother shot a 130-inch 10-point chasing does, both in Jackson County, Alabama, which is the northeast corner of the state. We have never seen rutting activity this early.” Dempsey had his share of luck, too (see below).

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Daytime movement: Daytime movement in post-rut states is getting harder to come by in South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia as the rut has slowed down, bucks may be weary, and hunting pressure has taken its toll. Finding food sources is the key at this time.

Alabama hunters are still a few weeks away from the typical peak rut, but that didn’t stop Shane Dempsey, who was hunting a new club in Jackson County this year and got trail cam pics (one is shown above) of a super buck with kickers on his tines. Nicknaming him “Ole Dagz”, he hung a stand and waited for the right wind. Conditions were right on December 3 and Shane slipped in, sprinkled some dominant buck lure, and waited. Forty minutes after sunrise, the buck came in. Shane tells the story: “Ol Dagz started making his way towards me and was scent checking along the way when I noticed he caught wind of the dominant buck urine. He turned to walk towards the spot where I had it out. He gave me a perfect broadside shot and I let the Grey Stick bark and made a good hit, but Ol Dagz was still standing and walking towards the buck urine looking for a fight!!!”

“Grey Stick” is a customized 7mm-08 pre-64 Winchester action with a Montana barrel, Kevlar Bell and Carlson Stalk, with a Zeiss Conquest 3×9 scope. The 13-pointer, shown here with Dempsey, weighed 150 pounds and gross-scored at 153 5/8 nches.

Estrous signs: The majority of does have been bred in South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia, with a small possibility of some second rut activity from those not bred earlier. Likewise, most females in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi are still a few weeks away from their time.