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.



My buddy Jimbo Robinson works for Ducks Unlimited in Memphis, Tennessee, and has a farm 40 miles north of the city in Haywood County.

“Brantley, I can’t wait until bow season, now that I’ve checked my trail cameras,” he told me when I called him yesterday. Tennessee’s season opens September 24. “The bucks down here are still holding tight in their bachelor groups. It seems about half of them have shed their velvet. But what’s neat is that when it was hot a couple weeks ago, I was just getting a few pictures; 50 or 60 in a week’s time. But since we’ve been having these cool snaps, the activity has really picked up, especially for the bigger bucks. When I last checked my card, I had more than 300 pictures in 10 days, and probably 15 of the deer on there were bucks.” You can see one of those bucks in the trail-camera pictures here.

We’ve already had some unusually cool weather in this region for this time of year. A vicious thunderstorm blew through the day before yesterday, dropping the daytime high temperatures by 20 degrees. That gets the deer on their feet, and has area bowhunters feeling especially antsy to sit in a tree.

But there are still a couple weeks of late-summer bachelor group patterns ahead of us. Jimbo says the deer are still keying on the soybeans in his heavily farmed area, and he hasn’t seen many acorns hitting the ground yet.

Although most bean fields are beginning to turn yellow around here, that’s still where I’m hunting, at least until I see acorns falling. Most of the reports I’m hearing on the mast crop in this region are that it’s spotty– I hope that’s true. A bumper crop of acorns tends to scatter deer far and wide. A select few trees are much easier to hunt. When scouting, I don’t necessarily search for trees with numerous acorns on the ground; rather, I keep walking until I find that special tree with turned up leaves, tracks, and deer droppings underneath. If there aren’t many acorns on the ground, I know it’s just because deer aren’t letting them sit for long.