south rut report
"My best advice for this phase of the season is to pace yourself.". Will Brantley

In my opinion, the next couple weeks are about the toughest of the season for southern deer hunters. The leaves are changing and buck sign is popping up everywhere. Expert studies tell us that deer activity only increases as the month wears on. Most mornings, I wake up and hope to need a jacket when I step outside—but the reality is, summer hangs on for a long time in these parts. Daytime high temperatures are still hitting the 80-degree mark often as not around here, and food sources are changing by the day. I’ve probably logged more sits without seeing a deer in mid-October than any other part of the season.

But the bucks are still there, and as Bestul pointed out in his most recent Midwest report, a strong cold front can be absolute magic this time of year. This past weekend was no exception. Last week was so hot—highs in the mid-80s—that many of the serious deer hunters I know simply opted to sit things out and wait for the conditions to improve. Kentucky’s two-day youth firearms season opened Saturday. A stout north wind was blowing most of the day as a front moved through, and most of the reports that I’ve gotten from that morning said the hunting was slow. Personally, I sat in a ground blind most of the day with my buddy and his son, and we didn’t see a deer.

Things changed on Sunday, once the wind settled and the high pressure set in. Deer were on their feet. Even though it still hit 75 degrees that afternoon, we had an awesome hunt while sitting in a shooting house over a bean field. The edge of the field was lined with big white oaks, and the deer were pouring out to gobble up acorns. We watched numerous bucks sparring in a bachelor group—out of range—and just before dark, my buddy’s son killed a nice young doe, his first deer ever. Look for the story of that hunt very soon.

It’s supposed to get warm again this week, but with more cold fronts in the forecast. My best advice for this phase of the season is to pace yourself. It’s a good time to fill doe tags. Hunt hard for bucks immediately after the cold fronts, but don’t burn yourself—or your best spots—out just yet. The best hunting is yet to come.