Whitetail Hunting photo

Deer hunters everywhere want to know when the rut occurs in their hunting area, because it’s one of the best times to see and kill a mature buck.

Biologists determine the peak rut by examining hunter-harvested deer. Determining the age of unborn fawns in the wombs of the female deer will indicate when conception occurred, and thus when the doe was in estrus.

Does in heat is one of the main stimulators of buck activity. When a buck smells a doe in heat, he is going after her regardless of the location or time of day. That is when we want to be in our stand.

Most southern states have varying peak rut times around their locales. From one side of the state to the other, the rut may be weeks apart. Mississippi biologists have tried to make things easier for Magnolia State hunters by putting this information in a handy map.

The map indicates that the rut starts in northwest part of the state in Desoto and Tate counties about the second week of December (Dec 6-13). Start dates then progress southeast about a week at a time.

Yazoo County peaked around New Years Eve, and Scott County was hot the first week of January. According to this rut map, the section of the state that includes Franklin, Jasper, and Clay counties, a strip from southwest to northeast Mississippi, is experiencing the peak of the rut right now, January 4-9. The southeast portion of the state, around George County, is a few weeks away.

This rut map is a great help, but it is only an indication of what most of the does are doing. Does come into estrus before and after these times. Bucks are commonly out seeking, searching, and checking out does throughout the fall and early winter, hoping for some action. The times indicated as peak rut may be your best time, but the weeks before and after can be good too.

In the delta area, a hunter in Grenada county reports that they’re still rutting fairly good and in northern Mississippi, another hunter thought their rut was over but saw a couple bucks hot on a doe recently. The map indicates the most probable peak rut times, but anytime you can get out in the deer woods is a good time.