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.



A few bucks are still chasing around here. My father-in-law, Larry Adams, hunted Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving and the only cool, clear morning of the four-day weekend, and watched a pretty good deer activity show.

“We saw a little buck shortly after daylight that I passed on, and then around eight a.m., we spotted this buck across the creek, chasing does on a hardwood hillside over on the neighbor’s farm,” he said.

The buck eventually bailed off into the creek, crossed it, stepped into our field and began making his way toward a food plot near Larry’s stand. He didn’t get far before Larry dropped him with his .270. Bits of fresh bark were stuck around the buck’s bases and brow tines from where he’d been making rubs, and the animal was so worn down from weeks of chasing that his hip bones were visible. When we skinned and quartered him, he was virtually devoid of fat–a sure sign he’s been burning some serious calories in recent weeks.

Though I’ve reported that the peak of the rut has come and gone in the northern portion of the Mid-South region, this buck is proof that the rut is still all about the does. If a doe comes into estrus, whether it’s the last week in October or first week in December, you can bet a buck will find her. Sure, a few days on average stand out every season–but timing the rut is not an exact science. There are variables in every county, on every farm, every new season.

As a hunter, there is one sure thing you can do to up your odds throughout the rut–and that’s go hunting. Larry has hunted every day of Kentucky’s modern gun season this year (that’s 14 days), and this buck–the first nice one he’s seen from the stand–finally came through three days before the closing bell. Patience pays off.