Southeast Rut Report: Slowly Exiting the Lock-Down Phase


Southeast Rut Report: Slowly Exiting the Lock-Down Phase

Posted 2019-11-22T10:01:00Z  by  Josh Honeycutt

What deer activity are you seeing?

Southeast Rut Report: Slowly Exiting the Lock-Down Phase - c_tony_campbell-shutterstock-se_0

Overall, the rut is starting to wind down. But there's still some action left to be had. Where peak breeding is over, bucks will soon start cruising again, just not as much as during the pre-rut. There are some areas where the rut has yet to peak, though. For many of the latter locations, expect it to get good within the next couple of weeks.

Rut aside, the weather hasn't been a huge help lately. It's warmed up the past few days and won't really drop back down much for a week or so.


Right now, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's historical rut data suggests that the rut is rocking in two places. Both the central portion of the Peninsula and the eastern third of the Panhandle are seeing rut activity.

Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana

Arkansas is in two stages of the rut right now. The Mississippi River counties are just now gearing up. But the rest of the state is winding down and on the backside of the lockdown phase. Don't give up, though. This can be a great time to tag a mature buck.

Gun season is in full swing, said The Virtue's Phillip Vanderpool. The bucks are starting to break away from does. We're starting to see bucks we've never seen. They're searching for the last few does that are coming into estrus. You have to be where the does are. Look for travel corridors, pinch points, and food sources. The problem here in the Ozarks (where I live) is we had a major crop of white oak acorns. So, the deer are spending lots of time in and never leaving the oak flats and benches. If you can take time to scout and find sign in the acorns, you'll likely find a big buck scent checking for an estrus doe. Set up some trail cameras. Check them regularly. Once you get a shooter buck, you need to be right on it. He'll probably hang around for a couple of days before moving on.

It's a different story in Mississippi. Down there, it's still the early season for the southeastern half of the state and the pre-rut for the northwestern half. Here, they are still on feeding patterns and we are hunting fronts, said Realtree United Country's Slade Priest. The scrapes and rubs are kicking in a lot more and they are moving toward their rut ranges. Acorns are the key right now. Food plots and feeders are slower than normal. Once December hits, and everyone else is shutting down, the rut down here will be just starting.

In Louisiana, the western half of the state has the majority of the action right now. While the best rut activity has been occurring in the southwestern quarter, it's creeping northward. The northwestern region of the state is now the hot spot.

The Carolinas

Things are winding down for hunters throughout South Carolina. The exceptions are the counties in the far northwestern corner of the state. It's finally cranking in that area.

Their neighbor to the north is seeing more breeding behavior. That said, while the eastern third of the state had the best action the past month or so, it's now the central third that's seeing the best rut action.

Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia

Kentucky is another state that's gearing down. The bulk of the does have been bred. However, bucks are beginning to cruise again as they search for the last few estrus does. The next week should see decent movement from older-age-class bucks.

Virginia is in the same boat. But Tennessee is slightly different. I killed in Tennessee last Friday, and I've got several trail cams running there, Whitetail TV's Bart Goins said. In western Tennessee (near the Mississippi River), bucks are starting to roam. Does probably aren't receptive yet, but the bucks are starting to look for them. It should only get better over the next couple of weeks. Usually, my best week is the first week of December.

Alabama and Georgia

Deer hunters in Alabama are seeing decent pre-rut buildup statewide. The rut will begin in a few counties by early December. In Georgia, it's much better activity. Our cameras on our lease in Georgia are showing bucks in their feet nonstop too, said Backwoods Life's Kevin Knighton.

His fellow Backwoods Life co-host, Michael Lee, said much the same. They are wide open and looking for does right now, Lee said. The rut is an awesome time to be in the woods.

True words.

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  • Day Activity

  • Rubbing

  • Scraping

  • Fighting

  • Seeking

  • Chasing

  • Breeding