A Front-Row Seat to the Rut Show

One of the main reasons that we as hunters love the rut so much is that it brings out the big mature bucks like nothing else. Seeing a trophy buck perform its rutting ritual is a grand experience.

My 15-year old son, Tucker, was able to observe a rutting buck up close last weekend. Set up on a wooded hillside beside a gas line, he spotted an 8-point buck beside his stand about 30 minutes after dawn. He tried to get his bow ready for the shot but the buck kept walking. He did notice that the buck kept looking back and when Tucker turned to look that way, he saw a magnificent mature 8-point buck.

It proceeded to make a scrape, kicking dirt back, rubbing its face on the overhanging branch and thrashing his antlers on the limbs. It then walked over to a large cedar tree and began raking its rack on the trunk and breaking off branches. With quivering knees, Tucker watched this awesome spectacle hoping for a shot. The buck began to walk off, so Tucker blew his grunt call. The buck perked up, puffed up his hair, laid back his ears, and trotted over looking for a fight!

Still just out of range, the buck stood there for a moment, then took off running. Tucker soon saw why he ran off--the buck had spotted some does and began the chase. For the next several minutes, the buck ran around chasing the does but never stopping long enough to provide a shot. They eventually all ran off, but Tucker experienced some of the most classic and exciting whitetail activity in the deer woods. The only rutting buck behavior he didn't see was breeding and fighting, and that may have happened out of view. He called me afterwards and breathlessly shared the details of incredible sight.

The rut is still many weeks away for Alabama bucks, but that doesn't mean that you cannot score on a bruiser. Andy Cobb used a trail cameras and a food source to zero in on a tremendous buck. His early season 17-point Alabama buck was taken with his bow and scored around 180 inches even with a large drop tine broken off. Cobb reports that they are "not seeing any rutting activity over here yet. Still a few bucks running together, lots of acorns this year."

In Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina, the rut appears to have begun and you may see such activity if you're in the right place at the right time. The deer in the Low Country of South Carolina have been in rut now and some hunters are taking advantage of it. Sergeant Chris Cawrse was on leave from the U.S. Army and was hunting with B.J. Compton of Flatwoods Adventures Guide Services. They had seen some young bucks sparring during the previous day's hunt, but while watching does on a food plot on a powerline, a 175-pound 8-point buck made an appearance, and the soldier, above, put him down.

Cool weather, changing leaves, and rutting bucks all make for a special time in the deer woods now. I'm hunting that stand my son was using in the hopes of seeing that big eight-pointer.