Overall Activity Status: In South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, and parts of Louisiana, we have entered the pre-rut stage. Reports are pouring in of woods dotted with rubs and scrapes, increased buck movement, and scattered accounts of bucks after does. With the rut becoming closer in these states, bucks are moving more and laying down sign. Most buck activity is from young and intermediate aged bucks that are eager for action. Mature bucks are, for the most part, still waiting on the does to actually come into heat.
Fighting: Pre-rut states are seeing bucks becoming more testy are they begin to search for early does. The stage of light sparring is past and more intense fighting will become more common. The states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Louisiana are still weeks away from pre-rut and bucks are still feeding and only sparring lightly.
Rub making: Rubs are being made regularly in pre-rut states, as laying down sign is part of most buck’s daily schedule. Matt Horton of Arkansas reports “I just got a doe this weekend, however rutting activity is starting to pick up. We saw numerous new scrapes and rubs and several camp members observed young and mature bucks chasing does.”
Scrape making: Like rubs, scrapes are being made daily. One area I hunted last weekend had dozens of scrapes, with most having fresh hoof marks. Bucks in pre-rut are making scrapes and rubs while they wait for does to come into estrus. Scott Perrodin of Louisiana bagged a five-pointer last weekend and his friend, Shane Stacy, took the 18-inch wide 8-pointer shown above during primitive weapons season. “They didn’t appear to be in rut yet, just the beginning stages, marking territory and such,” Scott said.
Chasing: The pre-rut states of Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana are starting to see bucks go after after does. It’s not the wholesale chasing that typifies the rut, but that is getting closer. John Stanley of Georgia is seeing more activity. “I saw a shooter Saturday morning and a couple of bucks chasing and grunting Sunday. Lots of rubs and scrapes opening up. It’s about to get real good.”
Daytime movement: Hunters in Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana are seeing better daytime movement. Bucks laying down sign and looking for does are moving day and night and hunters have a decent chance of seeing one during daylight with the right conditions.
Estrous signs: The increased reports of bucks following does in pre-rut states suggests that some does are in estrus early.
X Factor: Last Saturday I was in my stand before dawn. The first 30 minutes went by with no deer seen. At 8 a.m. I started seeing deer, and saw them continually around my stand for the next hour. Whether it’s a pattern or not, some areas seem to have a time of the day when the local deer seem to prefer to move. Find the time when deer are moving in your area, and make sure you’re in your stand then.