Overall activity status: “The rut is in full swing in northern Alabama. I am hearing of bucks chasing does across much of north Alabama,” reports Shane Dempsey. “I have seen some incredible rut activity the last two weeks, from bucks chasing does to a 120-inch 8-pointer breaking a sapling in half. Also, I have had several good friends kill 130-class 8-pointers. I expect more big bucks to fall in the next two weeks.”
Northern Florida, southern and eastern Louisiana, and most of Mississippi are also seeing good overall activity due to the rut.
Fighting: None reported, though any time you have bucks competing for estrous does and aggressive rub-making, there is bound to be some fighting going on and this is when it may occur in rut states.
Rub and scrape making: After a relatively quiet fall, the bucks in the Florida panhandle are finally getting this party started. Trevor Fitzgerald of Southern Arrowhead Outfitters reports, “We are starting to see small bucks chasing does. Tons of rubs and scrapes as well.”
Chasing:** As reported by Dempsey and Fitzgerald, the chasing has begun in their regions. If you have access to land in these areas, the magic time is now. However, like any area, there may be rampant running on some properties and sparse activity on land down the road.
Daytime movement: Jimmy Riley hunts and guides on Giles Island in Mississippi. He’s been saying all along that the best time is January, and that is what his report shows. “One of the strongest ruts we’ve ever seen on Giles Island. They have been chasing hard since around December 15 and still going strong. Normally most buck activity occurs at night. But with the cool weather we’ve had this year, the bucks have been very active during daylight hours,” said Riley.
Hard rutting and serious chasing all mean much daytime movement by rutting deer. The cold weather has also helped overall activity.
Estrous signs:** The wild chasing in rut areas are good indicators of estrous does. Look for this to continue in the hot rut areas mentioned.
X factor: The chase phase is here in the above-mentioned areas. Hunt from stands that allow you to see long distances, because a buck could chase a doe through an area at any given time. Stay in your stand as long as you can.