Whitetail Hunting photo

Overall activity status: The consistently cold, stable weather throughout the first half of November was timed perfectly with the rut in most areas of the Mid-South. I had some of the best hunting of my life during that time, and many area hunters would say the same. But all good things come to an end: A warm front blew through the region over the weekend, bringing with it high winds, heavy rain, and shirt-sleeve temperatures. Saturday was opening day of modern gun season in Tennessee, where I’ve been doing most of my hunting lately, while Sunday was the final day of modern gun season in Kentucky. The weather made for a lackluster weekend, to say the least. Most hunters I’ve spoken with over the past couple days have reported very slow deer movement.

Fighting: I haven’t seen much evidence of that lately. Mature bucks have been largely locked down with receptive does for the past several days (and I’m sure some of them still are). We’re not quite into a late-season pattern yet, but fighting activity is declining.

Rub making: I’m still seeing a few fresh rubs here and there.

Scrape making: I haven’t seen a fresh scrape on either of my last two trips to the woods, and I’ve been looking.

Chasing: Chasing also seems to be on the decline. Most mature does have been bred by this point in the season.

Daytime movement: As mentioned, it’s been slow, and that’s due to a variety of factors. With the rut waning, deer movement is obviously slower now than it was two weeks ago. Combine that with the weekend’s turbulent weather—and serious hunting pressure—and you can expect to see fewer deer. Still, this morning was cold and calm, and I saw five deer from the stand. All were feeding on acorns.

Estrous signs: Most does, at least at this latitude of the Mid-South, have probably been bred by now. Some yearling does should be coming into estrus soon, but I saw a doe with two fawns in tow this morning.

X Factor: Although the best days of the rut are behind us for 2014, it’s not time to throw in the towel. Seasons are open throughout the Mid-South well into January, and even if you’ve filled your buck tags, it’s a great time to be in the woods. I’ve been punching antlerless tags like crazy down in Tennessee–the arrow photo above is from this morning.

And if you’re still holding a buck tag, the next two weeks can be very productive. In fact, I was interviewing deer hunting expert and celebrity Kandi Kisky for a story the other day, and she mentioned that Thanksgiving weekend is among husband Don Kisky’s favorite times of the year for killing a truly giant buck. The Kiskys are in Iowa, of course, but the rut timing there coincides nicely with the rut timing in most of this region.

One final point: the rut in the Mississippi Delta region of Tennessee tends to be a bit later than it is in the rest of the Mid-South. Hunters there typically point to the first week of December as the best part of the season.