Whitetail Hunting photo

_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.

_Happy New Year to all deer hunters across the south. Many of us were shopping, visiting family and eating too much last week, and now we can get back out in the woods for some late season action and possibly try out any new gear that we received during the holidays.

There is still some hunting left in Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia, but the rut is over and hunters should focus on food sources. In the metro Atlanta area, the extended archery season continues through the end of January.

High energy food sources found in food plots and remaining crops like corn and beans should be a magnet for whitetails. Some areas that had a bumper acorn crop may still have some nuts left under the leaves that hungry deer will be searching for. Look for stirred leaves where some acorns remain. Water oaks often drop later and can also be a draw for deer.

There is always the possibility of the second rut, but it can be very spotty. Concentrating on food sources again is the best chance to see some late second rut action, brought about by does coming into heat a second time if they were not bred the first time, or by young does going into estrus for the first time.

Shane Dempsey from Alabama reports that “sightings have been down the last two weeks in northeast Alabama. I’m pretty sure we are in the lull or lock down period and expecting things to break wide open any day. I talked to several hunters in Marshall, Jackson, and Madison counties. They are reporting the same thing. Rubs and scrapes are everywhere though.”

Farther south, Tyler Casper shot his first buck ever, the 198-pound six-pointer shown here, in south central Alabama’s Pike County on December 30. Eight-year-old Tyler was hunting in a shooting house over a food plot with his grandfather. He used a .308 to make the 160 yard shot. The buck was fat on a good acorn crop and the lush food plot.

Florida’s rut is later this month but pre-rut action should be hot now. The rut is imminent in Alabama and Mississippi, but bucks are already moving well from various reports. Mississippi continues to see some giant bucks being harvested this year. Prime time is just ahead, and hunters in these states should be out right now.