Mid-South December Rut Report

After a week of torrential rain, the weather finally cleared, and we’ve since had several days of good hunting conditions here in the Mid-South. The mornings have been cold, clear, and calm, while the evenings have been nothing short of pleasant. Deer have been moving like crazy. My buddy Miles Fedinec, who is a big-game guide in Colorado, has been here hunting with me over the past few days, and priority No. 1 for him has been to return to Colorado with a freezer full of whitetail venison. He’s been highly successful on that front. We’re still seeing some good bucks on trail cameras, too, but so far, none of them have wanted to move around in the daylight.

We’ve been splitting our time between Kentucky, where bow and crossbow season is open, and northern Tennessee, where gun season is still open. The action has been good in both places. Deer are quite predictable around key food sources right now. They’re especially hitting anything green. In the past few days, we’ve seen does and young bucks feeding in rye grass food plots, brassicas, pastures, and nipping at remaining browse. In Kentucky, where baiting is legal, they’ve been hammering corn piles, too.

Although rut activity has been minimal, we have seen quite a fresh scrapes within the past few days. This is typical in the weeks immediately following peak breeding, and in my experience, it’s sign that’s often left behind by older, larger bucks. Those deer may not be visiting the food sources in broad daylight alongside the does and younger animals, but it only takes one mistake—or one late-estrus doe—to create an opportunity.