Overall Activity Status: Last week we reported that things were fixing to bust wide open, and it looks like they have in certain areas. Movement, including rut activity, is full bore in most of Arkansas, Georgia, and South Carolina , and in some portions of other states. Many hunters are seeing good bucks and scoring. In many cases, even the older mature bucks are in rut mode. One indicator of the actual rut is when the older bucks start chasing because the mature ones typically don’t waste their energy and expose themselves unless it’s for real.
Case in point: Last week a hunter in central Georgia got a trail camera photo of a particularly large buck. He went in to hunt the area last Sunday morning with his 12-year old daughter. They saw the giant buck, and the daughter took the shot. Grace Britt killed the 21-point, 170-class buck below with a .30-30 buck as it was hot on the heels of a doe. The non-typical had 17-inch tines.
Fighting: Hunters are reporting some fighting here and there. Most bucks are involved in pursuing does and will fight or at least posture when encountering another buck of similar size. Some of the bucks being killed have scars and marks from fighting.
Rub and Scrape making: Austin Jackson, who hunts in Georgia, reports that his trail cameras that are set up over scrapes are only getting pictures of only does during the day. However, the bucks are hitting them at night, particularly around 2 to 3 a.m. Watching scrapes may not be productive, except after a rain, at least for now.
Eddie Tompkins has his trail cameras set up over scrapes in central Georgia also and has recorded several bucks working the scrapes – all at night. These videos show bucks late at night working over the over-hanging limb. Nice to see, but being there at night doesn’t help the hunter.
Chasing: Major chasing is going on in Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas. The chasing phase of the rut is here and bucks are very active. The 170-class buck previously mentioned was chasing a doe, and numerous other reports are coming in about bucks going after does.
Daytime Movement: With the rut on in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia, there is significant daytime movement. While some deer still move at night, particularly the bucks checking scrapes, those states are seeing good movement in general.
Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Louisiana and Florida are still waiting on the rut. Trevor Fitzgerald of Southern Arrowhead Outfitters in Florida reports “our bucks are still grouped up and are hitting acorns and our freshly planted food plots. No rubbing or scraping yet”
Estrous signs: There are plentiful accounts of bucks chasing does intently, and it all points to does being in heat. Look for many more does in Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas to come into estrus in the next few weeks.
X-Factor: If you’re not using trail cameras to monitor your deer herd, you’re missing out on valuable information. The giant buck killed in Georgia last Sunday tipped off the hunters by appearing on the trail camera a few days prior. Cameras will not only tell you if a buck is using the area, they will also let you know the time of day. No big buck photos may also tell you to hunt somewhere else. It can be a hassle to keep checking them, but they can provide critical pictures that may lead to a trophy buck encounter.