Brantley: A Few “Second” Rut Signs

Rut Reporter Will Brantley of Murray, Kentucky, knows the region well. He spends 40 to 50 days each season in the Mid-South whitetail woods. Brantley shot his first deer at age 10 with a sidelock muzzleloader. States covered: KY, TN, WV, VA, NC.
Dec. 9--Overall Activity Status:** Weather has been downright frigid in these parts the last few days. Although deer activity was slow early in the week, reports I've been getting the last three days--both second-hand and from my truck window--have indicated steady deer activity, particularly in the early afternoon hours.
Fighting:** I'd say fights are few and far between now; I've even some bucks re-gathering into bachelor groups the last couple weeks.
Rub making:** Fresh rubs are still showing up here and there, but overall activity seems to be on the decline.

Scrape making: Scraping activity has been on the decline for some time now, but I wouldn't be surprised to find a fresh licking branch or cleaned-out scrape, as bucks may begin checking them again in hopes of finding a late-season estrous doe.

Chasing: This morning, on my way home from duck hunting, I saw a nice buck standing in a picked-over bean field with a doe--I doubt they were together by accident.
Daytime movement:** A buddy and I were on the way to the duck blind before daylight Monday morning and a nice 8-pointer crossed the road just in front of the truck--but other than him, all the deer activity I've seen in the last week (which has been quite a bit) has been during the daylight hours, with some of the best movement happening a couple hours before dark. It's been unseasonably cold with an entrenched high pressure here for several days.

Estrous signs: Most of the deer I'm seeing are does and fawns gathered in good-sized winter groups on food sources. Most of the does have no doubt already been bred, but the buck and doe I saw together this morning tells me a few late-estrous does are still around.

X Factor: Reports I'm hearing from other states, even southwest Tennessee, which probably has the latest rut in all of my reporting region, indicate that most of the Mid-South is in post-rut mode now, with a few scattered does coming into late estrus. Yet another cold front is forecast to move through the region this weekend; next week is supposed to be even colder. If you still have deer tags in your pocket, it's definitely time to be thinking about high-calorie food sources, especially corn and any remaining acorns you can find. These will attract those big family groups of does and yearlings--and if there's any hint of secondary rut in the air, that's where the bucks will be, too.