Brantley: Still Early in Southwest Tennessee

Oct. 29: The mid-south is an interesting region when it comes to whitetail rutting activity. Though the rut is ready burst at the seams about any day where I live in western Kentucky, things are much different less than 150 miles south of me, in the Mississippi Delta region of West Tennessee. Near Memphis and at least as far north as Jackson, Tennessee (maybe farther˜Tennessee hunters feel free to chime in here), peak breeding doesn't typically take place until the end of November or even the first of December. In fact, just across the Tennessee state line in northern Mississippi counties like DeSoto, Marshall, and Benton, peak conception dates for whitetails are around December 6.

Yesterday, I spoke to Jimbo Robinson, a buddy of mine who works for Ducks Unlimited in Memphis. Jimbo hunts a family farm near Brownsville, Tenn., a small cotton-farming community just off I-40, about halfway between Memphis and Jackson. „I‚m seeing a few scrapes and even fewer rubs so far,‰ he said. „Deer activity has been pretty good overall for the last week or so, but most of it seems to be standard feed-to-bed type movement.

I hunted with Jimbo over the first weekend of November last season. We saw a lot of deer and shot some does (the deer population in that area is huge, so you always see a lot of animals), but there was little going on in the way of rutting activity. Jimbo says things were different by the first of December last year. Bucks were running does everywhere. That‚s when he shot this fine 8-pointer in the photo.

Reasons and theories for the varied rut timing in the South run the gamut, but overall, the underlying theme seems to be herd dynamics˜whitetails in the South were restocked from populations brought in from all over the country and Canada. The climate and overall abundance of deer likely contribute to the mix as well.

Whatever the case, I‚m headed back down to West Tennessee myself for some hands-on research. Hopefully I‚ll return with a deer in the cooler and some fresh information to report.