2018 Georgia Rut Map
Know when the traditional peak of the deer rut occurs where you hunt to take advantage of pre-rut and chasing action.
I killed my best Georgia whitetail on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. According to GON’s Rut Map, it was time to be in the woods. The Rut Map didn’t lie.
When I pulled the trigger about 9 a.m., it was deer No. 11 that I’d seen—and buck No. 5. For a little ol’ timber lease with a couple of rednecks, that was a stellar morning.
When the mature 8 rolled through an area of thick pines out to my right, he looked like a trotting horse. He had one thing on his mind as he cruised through, and it sure wasn’t white oak acorns. If I hadn’t grunted at him, he would have never slowed down.
Looking back on that buck, it was undoubtedly just my time to connect. It was that special time of the year when mature bucks get brave—or stupid—as they search for receptive does. I just happened to lay out of work that day and be there waiting when he got frisky.
However, there are certain ingredients in the world of Georgia deer hunting that seem to be a regular occurrence when it comes to putting a mature whitetail on the truck.
Data On 250 Mature Bucks
Last week, gon.com released an article that looked at hunt data from 250 bucks that were killed during the rut.
Using the GON’s Rut Map as a guide, we looked through past Truck-Buck entry forms and found only bucks that were taken when the peak of the rut was occurring in a county.
On those entry forms, hunters tell us about weather conditions when the buck was killed—wind, temperature, and whether it was clear, cloudy, foggy or raining. We also find out what type of habitat the hunter was set up in, and if scents or lures were being used. Another interesting bit of information from the entry forms is what we call buck behavior—was the buck actually chasing a doe, did the hunter witness a buck fight or was a buck making a rub or scrape, were there rubs or scrapes in the area?
All of these tidbits of information from hunters who killed mature bucks during the peak of the rut are all pieces of the puzzle. When we look at all 250 bucks and their stories collectively, they give us a picture of what actually worked for hunters who were successful during the peak of the rut.
That gon.com article, along with all the hunt data broken out in easy-to-read charts, is at www.gon.com/hunting/hunting-the-georgia-deer-rut.
Pre-Rut: Turn Up The Volume
Also just released at gon.com was a strategy story written by Matt Adcock called “Georgia’s Rake and Rattle Bucks.” Part of that story talks about cranking up the calling volume once the pre-rut period arrives, which on average is several weeks before peak breeding days and is generally the best time to find a buck during hunting hours as he seeks that first doe coming into heat and before he gets locked down in a thicket with a receptive doe.
Part of Matt’s story follows.
“As the rut approaches, I like to lead off my rattling sequence with a raking sequence,” said Matt. “I carry an antler in my fanny pack for just such occasions. The tines have been cut off at sharp angles, so I can dig them into the bark of the tree. I slowly and methodically create a rub just as a buck would, pausing often and not getting very aggressive.
“You don’t make a lot of noise doing this, just the scrape and scratch of the antlers removing the bark, but when you’re in a thicket within 75 yards of a bedding area, the deer will have no trouble hearing it. I got the idea for trying this by going up trees in climbing stands. When I climb, I go slowly and quietly, and all you hear is the scuffling of the bark. Many times I have had deer come running up to me.
“When a buck rubs a tree, it’s a slow process. He will rub a few times, stop and look around, and rub again. Sometimes, it might take 15 or 20 minutes for me to make a rub on the tree I have climbed.
“Trees with hard, thin bark, like water oaks for example, aren’t as good for this as trees with thicker, softer bark that you can peel or flake off and that makes noise as it falls.
“The pre-rut is one of the best times to call mature whitetails. Of the 13 bucks I was able to call into bow range last year (2001), almost half of them responded during the pre-rut. If the non-aggressive approach to calling does not work early in the pre-rut, it is then time to get more aggressive. I begin by using a drag rag with Dominant Buck Urine or Tarsal Juice from Scrape Juice. Then I will make an aggressive rub with sporadic grunts. As the day fades, I will rattle. I often break a few limbs just before I rattle aggressively. A few deep grunts and a louder rattling sequence will follow.
“This approach is for when you know you have a dominant buck in the area. Strong scents and aggressive calls will often scare off does and younger bucks. Does and younger bucks do not like the smell of dominant buck urine early in the season and during pre-rut.
“One problem I have had with aggressive rattling is that deer will respond quickly but will not approach where I can get a shot. Obviously, this is more of a problem for a bowhunter than for a rifle hunter. I had four bucks hang up on me last year anywhere from 15 to 30 yards. They charge in looking for the fight, and I have to stop rattling to prepare for the shot. When I stop my calling, the deer stop their advance and begin to question what is going on.”
Matt’s full story is at www.gon.com/hunting/georgias-rake-and-rattle-bucks.
To Grunt Or Not To Grunt
Also just added to gon.com awesome archives of past magazine articles was Eric Bruce’s story about when and when not to use a grunt call. No doubt thousands of whitetails have been enticed into shooting range of hunters using a grunt call during the rut. However, there are times when a hunter did not call it, and it was the best decision. In some cases, the grunt was not used and should have been.
Eric’s story was first published in a 1997 issue of GON, but it remains relevant. Now it’s at www.gon.com/hunting/right-and-wrong-times-for-grunt-calls. This online story is for GON magazine subscribers only, so make sure to register at gon.com and link your subscription number for special access.
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