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: Activity is excellent in areas where the rut is kicking in, which includes Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. Bucks are actively cruising and seeking, with some chasing ongoing. Look for rut-related movement to peak very soon if not already.
Fighting: Some fighting will break out if rival bucks are after the same doe in estrus. Some bucks may respond to rattling if they have not located a hot doe. Bucks are no longer trying to establish their pecking order as this has already been settled earlier in the season. Most fighting will be between mature bucks that have wandered out of their home range in search of does.
Rub making: With the rut on in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, bucks are more intent on finding a doe than laying down sign. Still, some will take out their frustration or try to impress another deer by making a rub in their presence.
Scrape making: Bucks are seeking and chasing does and not using scrapes regularly. However be aware of a freshly worked scrape, which may indicate a buck still in the area.
Chasing: Shane Dempsey reports that “the rut is wide open here in northern Alabama. We’ve seen nine bucks chasing chasing does in the last two days.”
Daytime movement: Deer are moving well in rut states and it should increase during this chase phase. Does and bucks are moving as they’re trying to hook up with each other. Kyle Dempsey was hunting in Madison County, Alabama last week and spotted a buck nicknamed “Bullwinkle” that they had been hunting for some time, and had seen on numerous trail cam pictures and video footage.
The buck was exhibiting serious rutting behavior, grunting and chasing does. Dempsey missed the buck two days before seeing him bedded in a doe bedding area and finally put him down for good with his Sako 7mm-08. The 150-class 14-point buck, pictured here with Dempsey weighed 175 pounds dressed.
Estrous signs:** Definite indications of does in estrous in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. It’s rut time in these states and most of the does will be in heat now or the next week or so.
X Factor: Hunt open fields, doe feeding areas, and travel corridors to intercept some chasing action. Rutting bucks can be unpredictable and the best strategy is to spend as much time as you can in the woods and stay ready.