If you live in the post-rut states of Arkansas, Georgia, or South Carolina, most of the buck movement and activity is over, and it can be tough to see a buck. There is some late second-rut action, but that can be spotty and very tough to predict. Your best bet is to hunt near thick cover and especially around food sources. Bucks have depleted their reserves after the rut and will be looking for plentiful and nutritious food sources.
The acorns on the oak ridges and hillsides in October are mostly gone by December. However there may still be some nuts lying under the leaves. A few areas that I have scouted recently had evidence of deer rooting around in oak leaves, looking for remaining acorns. They desperately want acorns to eat, but they’re scarce. Most deer are willing to search for them under the leaves and you may find a late season buck looking for some.
One exception are water oaks, which tend to drop late and remain longer. The much smaller round water oak acorns are not the favorite nut for whitetails, as they will eat white oaks first. Because of that, deer may leave water oak acorns alone in favor of other acorns, so a water oak could be a hotspot now.
Jerrod Daniels had not killed a buck yet this season when he went to hunt a food plot in Georgia last Saturday. It was a rainy day and Daniels was watching several does feed in the plot. But he was also keeping an eye on a long shooting lane, and eventually spotted a good buck walking across it. Daniels quickly threw his rifle up and nailed the ten-pointer. The 130-class buck, above, appeared to be more interested in getting something to eat than looking for does.
In Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama, we’re moving from pre-rut to rut about now. Conditions vary depending on the region, but most bucks in these areas are chasing now, if they’re not involved already.
I asked Jimmy Riles of Giles Island, Mississippi if his bucks were in pre-rut. “No,” he said. “They are rutting now. Does coming into heat.” In his area of the state along the Mississippi River, it’s that magical time of the year.
Reports from Desoto County, Mississippi are saying that they’re chasing right now too, but a hunter in Tishoming County is not seeing much activity yet. In Alabama, the rut is going strong in Talledega County. The area around the city of Springville is hot with scrapes and rubs. There’s a mixed bag in Barbour County, with bucks in some parts rutting now.
It’s busy this time of the year, but work in some hunts too if you can. Hunt food sources in post-rut areas and get ready for some hot rut activity in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.