Warm weather has stifled daylight activity recently, but hunters are checking in with big-buck success from Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Georgia right now
This season has been marked by wild weather swings that have dramatically affected daylight deer activity across the Southeast region. Still, if you only read the first few lines of this week’s report, make sure this sinks in: Bucks are chasing does right now in most of the region, and the peak of the rut is about a week away.
It’s been a busy week since I filed my last report on October 30, which ran on Halloween. We were on the heels of an extended warm spell; then that was broken by a weekend of heavy rain and a wicked cold front that sent daytime highs plunging 30+ degrees lower. I sat on the edge of a food plot the evening after that front passed, and, despite being layered up, I nearly froze with a hard north wind in my face! But it was a great sit, as I watched a parade of young bucks harass does that were attempting to feed on winter wheat shoots and turnip greens. Ten minutes before the end of legal light, a heavy 9-pointer marched onto the field, grunting every step. I shot him at 10 steps and happily filled my 2023 Kentucky buck tag.
The action continued through most of the week. I got a victory text from a good buddy on Thursday evening (November 2). He shot a heavy Kentucky buck of his own that came cruising down a scrape line just before dark. On Saturday morning, hunting Tennessee’s muzzleloader opener, another buddy sent me a pic of a stud buck with a split G2 that he’d taken on a white oak ridge. That deer came in chasing a doe just after first light, and after my buddy shot him, another buck, this one a younger 8-pointer, ran in and began gouging the downed deer with its antlers.
The raw evenings and frosty mornings of last week seem like a distant memory now, though, as daytime highs are again creeping into the 70s, and it’s forecast to hit 80 degrees here in western Kentucky on Wednesday. I’ve been hunting the Tennessee muzzleloader season myself each day and have seen several cruising bucks, but the action is a far cry from what we saw during the last cold snap. Morning hunts have been best, but it’s worth noting that my wife had a big buck chase a doe past her stand at 3:30 yesterday afternoon, when it was short-sleeve weather outside. A crossbow malfunction kept that Kentucky buck safe for now.
Reports are similar elsewhere in the region. I’ve been following an Arkansas deer hunting group on Facebook, and have noticed a number of hunters there taking some impressive bucks over the past few days, many of them in the timber where, as is the case around here, there seems to be have been an incredible mast crop.
Tyler Jordan continues to have similar reports from South Georgia. His quest for a giant buck with double drop tines came to an end on November 1 when his neighbor, Wesley, rattled the deer in an hour before dark and made a perfect shot with his .270 (look for the full story on that buck later this week on Realtree.com). Jordan says the warm weather has stifled the activity a bit more recently, but a surprising number of mature bucks are still up and moving — and scraping activity is red-hot.
Over in Virginia, Mike Hanback reports the same thing. “More scrapes are opening up and hit heavily, and I’m seeing some chasing by young bucks,” he says. “More mature bucks are showing up on camera, too, mainly at night, but they’re starting to cruise. I also got pictures of two older bucks with broken racks, so the battle is on.”
Warm weather or not, the rut is happening right now — and during the days ahead in much of the region — so get out there and make the most of it.
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