Whitetail Hunting photo

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.