Deer Hunting in the Deep South is Just Getting Warmed Up
By Weston Schrank, Wildlife Biologist
Deer season and the rut in the northern states and the Midwest are coming to an end. The month of December has cooled down these states…maybe this year not in temperature but definitely deer activity. Normally this time of year might have had the Midwest under significant snowfall, but the unseasonably warm temperatures has hunters in early bow season scent control clothes…yes even this late in December. These warm temperatures have sparked rumors and rants of one of the worst deer hunting seasons and whitetail ruts possibly experienced. As we head into January, temperatures are still consistently warm, making plans for the late season hunting frustrating. With a whole lot of commotion up north making it feel hotter than it actually is, the south looks to offer a cooler residence and at this time higher likelihood for an opportunity to harvest a mature buck. It might be time to turn attention to the south…the Deep South.
While the rut passed through the Midwest in November as an intense 2 week period in states like Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, the far less intense rut of the Deep South is just getting started. Mississippi and Alabama in particular have breeding dates consistent enough to make claim to action heating up in December and staying consistent into mid-February.
Northern hunters re-adjust your heads, they could have started spinning after reading those dates. A rut from December to February…really? While it might be longer, the intensity and actual rutting activity including peak breeding dates are farther and fewer between, up and down, sideways and even turned upside down! Your head is definitely spinning now right?
Climate, nutrition, sex ratios, genetics and many other factors affect peak breeding dates and rut activity from Texas to Georgia. Activity and breeding dates are extremely region specific. The takeaway?
While the north and Midwest are usually the cause for a plane ticket and hard case for your favorite deer hunting rifle, this season might send you packing for a destination hunt down south. However, when deer hunting down south you need to come with some expectations.
Deer hunting in the south can be hot, cold, dead, and decent all within one week, and it seems every day’s activity is different. While sitting a funnel for 3 days might prove successful up north, more time will likely be needed in the south. Southern hunters reading this, properly managed herds and balanced sex ratios can do a lot in terms of increasing rutting activity. Less does creates more competition, helps to compact the rut, and can help to create more consistent movement.
As we head into January and the northern state’s and Midwest’s deer seasons fade out, the Deep South is cranking up. Good luck to all the northern hunters still fighting to tag a last minute buck, and the southern hunters just starting to get settled into a tree stand.