Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and parts of Louisiana are about to experience the most wonderful time of the year–for deer hunters. It’s very close to the rut, and reports are coming in of bucks chasing and following does in these states, suggesting that the pre-rut phase will soon ease into full rut.

The colder weather has been stimulating deer movement overall, too. Most buck sightings are young to middle-aged bucks after does. Older trophy bucks appear to be waiting for the main event, when the majority of does are in estrus and every buck in the woods is active.

South Carolina’s Josh Brown has already taken a nice bow buck and is looking forward to some action this week. “There have been a couple guys hunting our lease this week and have seen a good amount of does and a few small bucks,” Josh reports. “They have seen good sign such as scrapes and rubs. But they have not seen a big guy all week.”

Matt Horton shot at a nice buck in Arkansas last week but only found a patch of white hair. His twin brother Taylor had to show him how it was done when he killed the wide six-pointer shown above a week later in a food plot. Matt relays the story: “His buck came in to a food plot chasing one of this year’s doe fawns. He shot the buck quartering to him at about 60 yards. The buck fell at the edge of the woods but was still alive. He immediately reloaded his muzzleloader, got down, walked to within 20 yards of the buck and finished him off. As soon as he shot, he looked up and within 25 feet of him stood a massive 10-point that was watching the cloud of smoke that came from his shot. The buck watched the smoke and stomped his foot a few times, turned and slowly walked away, never seeing Taylor! He was not carrying another reload. The buck’s live weight was 198 lbs., which is pretty good for an Arkansas buck.” The hefty 6-pointer had a fresh scar on his belly from Matt’s errant shot.

Another hunter at Matt’s Van Buren County property shot a 130-class 8-pointer, and a hunter took a reported 150-class 11-pointer at the Camp Robinson Special Use Area in Faulkner County, Arkansas. Some big bucks have also been taken in Georgia, including a reported 187-inch buck from Taylor County and a 230-inch behemoth hit the ground in Worth County, Georgia.

Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi are still a month or so away from their rut. Hunters there are already seeing rubs and scrapes. Fresh rublines and active scrapes are always good places to put up a stand now in these states, especially if they’re near a food source.