Ray: Hot and Cold Running Rut

Rut Reporter Brandon Ray is an expert on the region. Ray was born in Dallas and shot his first deer … Continued

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Rut Reporter Brandon Ray is an expert on the region. Ray was born in Dallas and shot his first deer with a bow in Central Texas at the age of 15. The full-time freelance writer manages his family’s Texas Panhandle ranch, is a licensed New Mexico guide, and last year took a 184 gross P&Y non-typical trophy. States covered: TX, OK, NM.

The weather and the hunting is hot and cold in the south. Early in the week the afternoon temperatures reached the seventies but another cold front is coming in and will move the thermometer down into the thirties, which is more condusive to deer activity. Southern hunters are adjusting from wearing a single shirt to bundling up with coats all within a week.

The hunting and the rut has been hot in some areas while the rut is still weeks away in other areas. South Carolina, Georgia and parts of Louisiana are in the rut right now. Reports are common of bucks chasing does and buck sightings and harvests are way up in these areas. Jared Daniels was hunting in Morgan county, Georgia on Tuesday and harvested a handsome ten-pointer that was following a doe. That was when the weather was still quite warm, yet the buck was on the move at 4:15 in the afternoon.

A hunter in Floyd County, Georia bagged a chocolate-antlered ten-pointer that ran off a spike before coming in to investigate a Tinks scent cannister. A trail camera set up in Taliferro County recorded a doe trotting by, followed hotly by a pursuing buck. Another hunter observed a doe bolt across a road followed by a charging buck that ran into a car that had stopped for the doe. The buck bounced off, seemingly unhurt and continued on with is pursuit. The rut is here in Georgia and hunters need to get out, and stay out for their piece of the prize.

On the other hand, Alabama bucks are over a month away from the rut. Hunters are still basically following a summer feeding pattern and looking for food sources to locate deer. That’s precisely how William Barton located and eventually harvested this Pope & Young-class buck. Baron has been hunting his Greene County, Alabama farm for several years and has been getting trail cam pics of a bruiser buck he named “Crabclaw Nine” because of his antler configuration. He passed him up several times last season and this year he knew the buck was traveling in a bachelor group of eight other bucks while routinely visiting a soybean and iron clay pea field. Having figured out the pattern, Barton closed in for the kill.

“The day that I harvested the deer I had the necessary wind, which was actually out of the southeast and the weather was quite warm, with an afternoon high of close to 75 degrees. It was shortly before dark and I was set 20 yards into the woods off of the gas line, and at this point had seen a few does and fawns, when the first buck showed up in front of me on the gas line. I then noticed several other bucks appearing from the opposite wood line feeding out onto the gas line.

From the tree I was in there was only a 10-yd wide shooting lane that I had out onto the gas line. Of the nine racked bucks out there the only one that stepped into the shooting lane and fed broad side was the crabclaw nine. I ranged him at 33 yds. At first I thought I would let them feed across into the woods around me and then take a shot. However, after looking down into the woods, I realized it would be too dark to take a shot there as the light was fading very quickly. I decided to draw back on him while he was out in the opening on the gas line, and could barely see my sight pin through the peep. I figured this was fate for me to have the chance at this buck after following him for such a long time”, Barton relates.

Barton made the shot and the buck was found 100 yards away. The 4-1/2-year-old buck weighed 205 pounds and scored 135 inches P&Y. Barton commented, “This is very early for the Alabama season and the bucks are still in a definite late summer pattern as the acorns had just begun falling in the week leading up to this. After cleaning the buck I noted that his stomach was full of chewed up wateroak acorns.”

Bucks are not in rut yet in Alabama, as well as Florida, parts of Mississippi and Arkansas, but good bucks can still be harvested by learning their patterns and food sources. For the states in the rut, bucks are running everywhere after the does, so find a likely travel area or doe feeding location and stay alert.