BY Josh Honeycutt November 15, 2019
The action has improved for some since last week, while it’s gotten tougher for others. In some areas of the region, bucks are definitely locked down with does.
The weather has been great the past couple weeks. While the area will experience a slight warmup in the days ahead, the forecast doesn’t look terrible. Expect good deer hunting as we ease into the weekend.
According to historical rut data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the rut is peaking in two locations. First, the central portion of the Peninsula. The second is the eastern third of the Panhandle. In-the-field deer sightings and current whitetail behavior supports this information.
With the exception of a few southeastern counties, bucks are locked down in Arkansas. Phillip Vanderpool, an Arkansas deer hunter and host of The Virtue, verified this. “The big bucks aren’t showing up on camera at all,” he said. “They are in lockdown. We’re seeing lots of single fawns. But they should break loose any day now. From this point on, be out there all day. Watch for groups and get in those travel corridors and pinch points. Go back to scrapes as the big boys start to visit them and scent check again.”
There’s still no rut in sight in Mississippi. Deer are still in early season patterns in the southeastern half of the state and pre-rut patterns in the northwestern half. The first signs of the rut won’t show until early December.
In Louisiana, the southwestern corner of the state is seeing the bulk of the action, but the rut is beginning to slowly creep northward.
About 95% of South Carolina counties saw great action the last couple of weeks. That continues for some areas. However, rut activity is beginning to taper off now. The exception is in the northwestern corner of the state, which is really just starting to fire up.
While the eastern third of North Carolina has already seen the majority of its rut, the central third of the state is finally heating up. Furthermore, the western counties won’t get good for a couple weeks yet. But this is to be expected. “It’s consistent with years past,” said North Carolina Wildlife’s Jonathan Shaw. “It’s triggered by photoperiod, which doesn’t change from year to year.”
We’re right in the middle of the lockdown phase here in Kentucky. I haven’t seen a mature buck on its feet since last Saturday afternoon. And even then, it was following a doe. The good news? We should be out of the primary lockdown period by this weekend. Be on stand. You never know when your target buck could break loose in search of the next doe. Virginia is more in line with what’s happening in Kentucky. But even there, the deer seem to be a touch behind Bluegrass bucks.
In Tennessee, things are much the same for most northern counties. But the majority of the Volunteer state is a little behind its northern neighbor. “Bucks are cruising right now, and scrapes are staying active,” said CVA’s Rick Taylor. “They are not locked down yet. Does are staying on acorns still. Hunt where the does are, and you’re likely to catch the buck you’re looking for.”
No rut for Alabama hunters … yet. Yellowhammer State deer hunters are still seeing solid early season and pre-rut patterns. There won’t be any hints of true rut activity until early December. Even then, it should only be a few select counties.
In contrast, Georgia is rocking. The majority of the state is experiencing solid seeking, chasing and even breeding activity. Bucks are locked down in some counties. The exception to the rut madness includes some southeastern, southwestern and far northern counties.
“The bucks are wide open right now,” said Realtree’s Roger Culpepper. “We’re seeing does being bred, and bucks are on their feet at all times of the day. Now is the time to be in the woods anytime you can be there.”
Realtree pro staffer Mike Mayfield agreed. “The 1½- to 2½-year-old deer are chasing and acting a fool,” he said. “Mature bucks have started to bed with hot does. In my opinion, next week should crank up again.”
Until then, be safe, have fun and enjoy the hunt.
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