Overall Activity Status: Numerous accounts point to the rut fixing to bust wide open in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia. Hunters are seeing excellent movement all over, including bucks chasing does. It appears that the transition from pre-rut to rut has already happened in these states, and deer activity is in high gear. One hunter in South Carolina reported “a major positive turn in buck activity since Sunday. Bucks are being seen chasing.” If you hunt in one of these states, it’s time to be in the woods as the action is heating up right along with the rapid cooling down of the weather.
Fighting: With the rut kicking in in Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas, there is going to be some fighting over the does that are being chased. A hunter in South Carolina observed five different bucks from his stand and two of them got in a fight. From now through the new week or so, most of the buck fighting will occur in these states. Take along some rattling antlers to lure one in.
Rub making: Rubs are on the increase as testosterone-infused bucks are taking it out on small trees. Bucks that are not chasing will be making rubs frequently along their travel routes and feeding areas. Look for the freshest ones instead of the dried out rubs from a month or more ago.
Scrape making: I am seeing scrapes here and there, and many other southern hunters are too. If a buck is not pursuing a doe, he likely will be making scrapes. Bucks typically make scrapes regularly during pre-rut, but as the main rut and chasing begins, they’ll spend less time pawing and more time searching.
Chasing: This category has seen the most increase in the last week. Hunters from several southern states are reporting bucks chasing does. Theron Sharp of Dacula, Georgia reports that he’s seeing bucks chasing does in his Hancock county property. Don in Arkansas saw four bucks chase one doe for over an hour. Another Arkansas hunter watched a large spike chasing a doe and grunting. A South Carolina hunter stated “it’s like you flipped a switch, I saw three different bucks chasing a doe.” If you’re in the right place in Arkansas, Georgia, or South Carolina, you are likely to see some chasing.
Daytime Movement: The biggest stimulator of daytime movement is the onset of the rut followed by a cold front. We’re getting both now in several states. Temperatures are predicted to drop into the 30s this weekend and the numerous reports of bucks sightings and doe chasing all adds up to excellent deer movement overall.
Robby Veal, shown above, cashed in on some daytime movement of one particular buck on Georgia’s firearms opener. Sitting in a box stand over a food plot, he spotted movement close to dusk. “I noticed something walking towards the food plot directly in front of me about 150 yards away on an old road bed,” Veal reports. “I could tell it was a deer with horns but I didn’t know how big. So I grabbed my Ruger M77 Mark II .30-06 and looked through my scope to get a better look at him. He had made it into the food plot at this point and he looked to his right. I noticed all of the mass on his horns and the split G2. He was the biggest buck that Andy had trail cam pictures of so far this year. At that point I knew he was a shooter.
“So he took a half dozen more steps and put his head down and started to eat clover. My nerves couldn’t take anymore so I went ahead and shot. He dropped in his tracks. I got out of that stand and walked up to him. I stopped about 5 feet before I got to him and hit my knees to thank the Good Lord for all of my many blessings. Not only was this the biggest buck I had ever seen, but now this was the biggest buck I had ever killed. We thought he was a 9 point but he actually had 13 scorable points and awesome mass. We green-scored him at 156 inches non-typical. He has 16½- inch inside spread and weighed 187 pounds. It looked like he was about half way into the rut. His neck was swollen but not full blown. His hocks were dark brown, not yet dark black. He had fresh scars from fighting and he had recently chipped part of the tine on the split G2,” Veal reported.
Estrous signs: Bucks chasing does usually indicates does in estrus, but not always. When young eager bucks harass does that are not ready yet, the does avoid them and they eventually lose interest. But when you see several bucks chasing the same doe, older bucks chasing, and bucks chasing persistently, those all point toward some does being in estrus. That is what we’re seeing in Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina. Some does are coming into estrus now and it looks like we’re right at the beginning in these areas.
X-Factor: X-factor stands for Xtremely Odd in this case. Mikell Fries of Claxton, Georgia killed one of the oddest bucks we’ve seen so far this year. The Evans County, Georgia buck has a huge non-typical rack that is still in velvet. Crazy points and two long drop tines all add up to about 225 inches of antler, but it gets stranger. Fries reports that the buck only had one testicle and was physically going downhill. He had seen it last year when it was a 130-class 8-pointer, and based on year-round trail camera pictures, it never shed its antlers, but just kept growing. The buck only weighed 130 pounds and could not reach its head down to the ground because of the long drop tines beside its head. Fries also said that the buck made a coughing sound like it had bronchitis. This Georgia hunter certainly bagged a unique trophy.