Overall Activity Status: Deer continue to move well in most areas, particularly in the rut-active states of Alabama and Mississippi, and in some portions of Florida and Louisiana. A good rut-hunt story comes out of this last state from Trent McIntosh, who invited his friend, Brent Pharis, to hunt with him on his lease last weekend.
The two were hunting on the Red River near Benton, in the northwest part of Louisiana. With the right weather and wind, they headed for their stands. Trent describes the action: “Bucks started chasing in early November here and were hot and heavy by mid-November. So judging by that and my trail cam pics, we figured we should be right in the middle of second swing of rutting. Combine that with the deer really starting to hit the corn hard since most of the acorns are now gone, [it all made] for some pretty good conditions.” The morning hunt was unsuccessful, so Trent switched Brent to another stand.
“I decided to put him on my best stand. I have some good bucks showing up on camera there about once a week, but the does are much more consistent and show up like clockwork everyday around 4:30. We got on stand around 2:30 p.m., and about 4:20 I texted him to say ‘get ready something is going happen soon’. Brent blind-grunted a few times and ten minutes later at 4:30, a big deer slipped in to about 15 yards and gave him a broadside shot. Brent did his part and so did the Rage broadhead. He heard the deer crash about 40 yards away. He texted me to say ‘I just smoked a giant.’ Not knowing which deer it was, we walked in, and Brent put his hands around a beautiful ten-pointer that scored 136 and change. I guessed his weight around 175 pounds due to being drawn up a bit from rutting.”
The buck, above, was Brent’s first deer with a bow. Trent had over 500 trail camera photos of the buck at that location, but despite hunting there about 30 times this season, he had yet to see him while on the stand. “All I can say is when it’s meant to be, it is meant to be,” said Trent.
Fighting: The South is not well known as a hotspot for rattling in bucks, but they still fight. Fighting can be spotty and happen often at night, but bucks that encounter each other during the rut have a good chance of banging heads.
Rub and Scrape Making: Trent McIntosh commented that he is still seeing some scrapes. “We actually saw rutting activity earlier than normal this year. Their hocks got dark the last week of October, and the first chasing we saw was first two weeks of November here. Since then I have seen a few scrapes being hit first week of December but that’s about it. Deer here have lost quite a bit of body weight and bucks are hitting the corn hard, so I assume first and second rut are probably wrapped up here. Louisiana is very diverse, though, from a rut standpoint. Different parts of the state rut at very different times, from early October in southwest Louisiana to January in east and northeast Louisiana.”
Chasing: Chasing has begun in Alabama and Mississippi, as Jimmy Riles of Mississippi confirmed this week. Whitetails are moving from pre-rut to full rut now in these areas, and hunting is at its best.
Daytime Movement: Nick Arnold of Alabama is seeing increased daytime activity based on his trail cam pictures. He has not been able to get out for much hunting yet, but hope to soon. “I will say that, according to my game cams, the necks are starting to swell and the tarsal glands are getting dark,” says Arnold. “I’m also getting pics of increased daytime movement.”
Estrous signs: The does of Mississippi, Alabama, and eastern Louisiana are coming into estrus about now. Typically their prime time begins in late December, and hunters should begin seeing more chasing, following, and buck activity.
X-Factor: Many hunters believe that deer move more at night during the full moon and less during the day. The full moon is waning now, so that excuse is over and everyone hopes and expects more daytime movement now.