Overall Activity Status
Deer are still in their summertime pattern, which means staying close to food sources such as fields, crops and food plots. Movement is minimal and primarily at night or right at dusk. With the temperatures being still high, deer can be lethargic and moving only to feed. The season is already open in South Carolina and hunters there have a chance for a velvet-antlered buck, as the photos here indicate.
Bo Settles hunts the Southern Pines Hunt Club near Bamberg, South Carolina, and had trail cam pics of a giant 12-pointer that was showing up regularly in the afternoon with a 4 pointer. On the afternoon of August 18, Settles was watching shooting lanes containing planted food plots when the 4 pointer showed. Following behind, as the trail cam pics indicated, was the 12 pointer. Settles shot the 18-inch wide 12-pointer for his first velvet buck. The 4 ½ year old buck weighed 200 pounds and proves that mature bucks can be taken early in the season if you hunt the right food sources.
By early September, most bucks will be shedding their velvet. Their testosterone levels will be rising and some bucks may be feeling testy. However the rut is still months away and only light sparring with their new hard antlers can be expected.
With velvet drying and shedding, bucks will be rubbing trees to scrape the velvet off. If you find a rub, it may have some velvet shreds around.
Bruce Compton, also of Southern Pines Hunt Club in South Carolina, has already observed some scrapes. It’s still early for most serious pawing yet, but there may be a few scattered scrapes here and there which will indicate a buck’s range at this time.
No chasing yet except for some shows of dominance where a buck may run at another deer to show who’s boss.
Best activity is in the late afternoon and at dusk. Because of still warm weather, deer will lay low during the heat of the day. Some movement can be seen also in the first few hours in the morning.
**Estrous signs **
Compton speculates that the second full moon in August (known as the “blue moon,” which is rare when two full moons occur in the same calender month) has stimulated deer, particularly bucks. That’s why he is seeing more sign, like scrapes, in his neck of the woods in South Carolina. Moons do have an affect on deer movement and this may be a good time to score in the Palmetto State.
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.