What deer activity are you seeing?
It's been warm throughout the region. Deer movement has reflected that with decreased levels of daylight sightings. There's hope on the horizon, though. While the weekend outlook is bleak, a cold front will sweep through early next week, which will set the stage for those still packing deer tags.
Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi
According to Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources biologists, hunters in the northern half of the state are seeing a significant uptick in rut sign. There's even a bit of chasing, suggesting love is certainly in the air.
In Louisiana, things are hit-and-miss throughout much of the state. That said, in the western parishes, the rut is mostly over. The eastern half of the state should start seeing decent rut activity in the coming weeks if they haven't already, but timing will vary from parish to parish.
Historical Mississippi rut data suggests the northwestern third of the state is seeing relatively decent rut action, too. Expect the love to slowly spread southward as we move through December and into January.
According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, counties along the Mississippi River have been seeing pretty good rut action the past week or so. In contrast, while breeding is over throughout the rest of the state, some second-rut action is occurring on a limited, property-by-property basis.
The rut is over in South Carolina as well. Both historical data and field reports show little rut action left. Things are much more positive in North Carolina. I've been grinding in North Carolina, said Red Rising TV's Matt Bullins. Activity has been really good in the mornings and fair in the evenings. Big bucks are still on their feet in daylight, mornings and evenings.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, decent rut action is still happening in the Panhandle's central counties. However, the rut is much less defined throughout much of Florida. It can be on in one area today, while deer five miles down the road won't rut for two months.
Much of the Volunteer State has cooled off. That said, Whitetail TV's Bart Goins said deer are still rutting in western counties, especially those bordering the Mississippi River. Some deer in far northeastern Tennessee are showing signs of the rut, too.
Kentucky and Virginia
Things are somewhat slow in the two northernmost states in the region. It's been mostly warm for the past week and deer movement reflected it. That said, I snuck out of the office one afternoon early this week and watched a mature buck get up out of his bed in a CRP field. He was focused solely on food (and water); but I did witness a young buck trail an adult doe. All said, we're in the late season now. A few missed does and doe fawns — that reached the necessary weight threshold needed to breed — will soon drive whatever second-rut action occurs wherever you hunt.
The vast majority of Georgia is seated in the late season now. That said, parts of some northernmost counties, such as Catoosa, Whitfield, Murray, Fannin, Union, Towns and Rabun, as well as Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller and Seminole in the Deep South, are experiencing decent rut action.
We recently hunted in southwestern Georgia near Blakely, said Backwoods Life's Kevin Knighton. Rut activity is approaching its peak. We saw a lot of bucks chasing, and according to the locals, it's been ramping up quickly for several days.
But it's a much different story throughout the rest of the state. At our lease a few hours East of there, bucks that have been gone for the last month are now showing back up on our cameras, Knighton said. They're coming back home to food and are noticeably worn down. A few are carrying battle scars and broken head gear, but they're back in the same areas they lived before the rut carried them away in search of love.
Bone Collector's Travis T-Bone Turner is seeing even less activity. It's been horrible, Turner said. I've been home since November 22, and I can't see — or get a picture of — a mature buck. There was a 10-day stretch where they basically went underground.
That means one thing — the rut is over. The rut is definitely in the past, said Realtree pro staffer Michael Pitts. They seem to be getting back on their feet now and looking for food.
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