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Pre-Rut Action Picking up in Deep South

White-Tailed Deer


Pre-Rut Action Picking up in Deep South

Posted 2023-11-28  by  Will Brantley

Bucks are beginning to cruise in Louisiana, while the Mid-South settles into the post rut

I’m writing this on the morning of November 29, which the local weatherman says is the coldest morning we’ve had since last March. Rutting activity, and daylight deer activity in general, has declined significantly over the past 10 days in western Kentucky and northern Tennessee — but the show isn’t over completely. I saw two young bucks chase a doe through the field across the road just this morning.

Regardless, most of the deer I’ve seen over the past few days have been groups of does and fawns running together, a sure sign that peak breeding is behind us in this part of the region. South Carolina hunter CJ Davis reported the same thing to me yesterday evening from his neck of the woods. “I’m seeing doe groups back together with yearlings. Bucks are scarce. It’s all about the food now,” he said. “You need to look for isolated food sources near nasty cover, and hope for a late doe to hit estrous.”

But conditions are improving elsewhere in the South. Realtree’s Tyler Jordan has been hunting in south Louisiana for the past 10 days, and he says the rut activity there has been picking up steadily. “The big bucks haven’t been as active, but we’ve seen young bucks bumping does and making scrapes. The more mature bucks have been strictly on feeding patterns,” Jordan said. “Yesterday morning, with this cold weather, was the most chasing I’ve seen here yet, but I’m not sure it’ll last with the rain and warm weather we’re getting in tonight through the weekend.”

Realtree’s Cole Barthel had a similar report from Northeastern Louisiana. “The rut’s in a holding pattern, but things are on the verge of opening up,” he said. Barthel is seeing a lot of evening doe activity in food plots and around mast trees, but daylight buck activity is still slow. “Depending on the weather, I expect things to really pick up in about a month,” he continued. “Usually, peak seeking and chasing around here occurs around Christmas or between New Years and Christmas.”

Local hunter Walker Morris also weighed in on the Louisiana movement. “I saw 18 does and three bucks on a winter wheat plot yesterday evening,” he said. “Movement started early; I had deer on camera at 2:30 before I even got to my stand. I saw a year and a half old buck get a little fired up and push a doe around, and right at dark I had two young bucks sparring nearby.”

Mid-South hunters should be thinking ahead to late-season food sources. Choice options in this region include cover crop wheat fields, food plots, red oak acorns, and of course any remaining corn or soybeans. Where legal, baiting with shelled corn will be more productive in the final weeks of season than it’s been since September. Deep South hunters, meanwhile — those hunting in places like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama — need to stick with the doe groups right now. Primary food sources with numbers of mature does are the place to be during evening hunts in the late pre-rut. Mature bucks will begin checking those places more often, sometimes during shooting light, as they wait for the first does of the year to enter estrous.

Read the Tale of a Giant Southern Buck with Double Drop Tines!

  • Day Activity

  • Rubbing

  • Scraping

  • Fighting

  • Seeking

  • Chasing

  • Breeding

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