Alabama’s archery season began October 15, which, along with a section in Mississippi, completes the full opening of deer season in some form in all southeastern states. Georgia’s firearms season begins this Saturday, October 19.
Some hunters are reporting good rutting action while others are seeing sparse sign. It seems to depend on where you’re hunting and the health of the deer herd and current conditions. I recently scouted a property that was torn up with sign last year, and I killed two nice bucks there. This season the acorns are scarce and so is the deer sign. But a mature buck may move into a range where there may not have been a mature buck before, and leave plenty of sign. All this equates to the importance of in-season scouting and monitoring your hunting properties on a regular basis. Whether you do this with trail cameras or on foot, keeping tabs on deer sign in your area can make the difference between seeing deer and watching leaves fall.
Casey Martin hunts east of Anacoco, Louisiana, in Area 3, and scored a very nice buck recently. He had gotten trail camera pictures of a mature animal and diligently pursued him. “I put up trail cameras in hope to see if there was any bucks cruising the area. I got my first picture of the buck in mid-August,” Martin said. “That gave me hope, although I never got another picture of him until early Friday morning at 5:30 a.m. on October 4th.”
The second trail camera photos of the big buck gave Martin even more hope and he hunted three days straight seeing only does. But with the rut kicking in, he went again the fourth day and it all came together. With his wife urging him to go, Martin was in his stand at 6:30 a.m. and a cold front had come through overnight.
“I caught a glimpse of deer movement. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I stood up and came to full draw. The deer was just easing through the thicket when I spotted horns. I Just focused on where I would have a clean shot. The deer finally stepped broadside into an opening at about 40 yards. I placed my pin on his shoulder and released and he fell right there in his tracks. I let him lay there for 30 minutes. It wasn’t until I walked up to him that I realized his size,” Martin recalls.
The bruiser buck, shown above, had nine heavy points, including a forked G2 and weighed an estimated 180 pounds. Martin commented that his tarsal glands were only lightly stained and he had a 26-inch neck. The buck hasn’t been scored yet, but Martin’s taxidermist says the buck will reach the Pope & Young minimum.
Many hunters are seeing more rubs and scrapes in the pre-rut areas of South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, and sections of Louisiana. There have been a few scattered accounts of bucks harassing does, but few females are in heat yet. Bucks are ready and eager in many areas, so don’t leave your grunt call or rattling horns at home.