Overall Activity Status: Movement is picking up quite well lately as cooler weather, increased acorn dropping, and the pre-rut gets closer. There is strong evidence that the pre-rut is actually here in some areas. Reports of bucks following does and making scrapes are coming in from South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana.
Fighting: Some sparring is being reported, and several hunters have trail camera pictures of bucks fighting. The most intense fighting is still to come but there are definitely some bucks warming up and testing their moxie with their brethren.
Rub making: Rub making is a daily habit now for most bucks. With does not yet in heat, adult males are marking territory and venting their frustration on saplings. Most rubs can be found around feeding areas for now, but will expand as bucks begin cruising very soon.
Scrape making: Bucks are scraping in the pre-rut states of Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana. Most areas with rubs also have scrapes nearby, particularly field edges and feeding areas. Any fresh scrape located is an excellent place to set up a trail camera to see the bucks that are using it.
Chasing: Several hunters have reported seeing bucks following does, and one connected because of it. Geoff Williams of Lexington, South Carolina was bowhunting Donnelley WMA near Walterboro. A doe was approaching Williams but it spotted him and took off. Moments later he heard leaves crunching and a good buck walked by his stand at only ten yards, but Williams never had a shot and the buck walked off. Williams used his grunt call, turning the buck around, and eventually coaxed this 165-pound 8-pointer within bow range.
Daytime movement: Deer movement during daylight hours is on the increase, but is still best at dawn and dusk. Johnathan LeDoux, who was hunting out of a blind on Louisiana’s Area 8, near LeBlanc on opening day of their muzzleloader season, describes a successful morning hunt:
“The morning started out great. At 7:45 I watched a doe to the left of my blind at about 200 yards. At 8:04 a big doe caught my eye, crossing the lane to my right at about 180 yards. I put the crosshairs on her but opted not to shoot. At 8:09 here he comes in the same spot, and I got on him pretty quick. I had only a split second to evaluate him and make a shot.”
That’s LeDoux to the right with the 17-inch wide nine-pointer, which has a 4-inch drop tine.
Estrous signs: I cannot confirm any estrous does yet, but there have been numerous reports of bucks following does. The two hunt stories here are good reasons to make sure a buck isn’t following the doe you are intending to shoot.
X Factor: Considering all the behavior noted above, this may be a good time to try some doe-in-heat lures around your stand to draw in an eager buck.