Bucks Running Hot And Cold: Reports From The Georgia Deer Woods

Some Georgia giants have been killed, but warm weather seems to have suppressed the rut action at times.

GON Staff | November 30, 2020

One hunter comes out of the woods reporting that it’s dead as a hammer, and a guy down the road can’t see straight after witnessing all the rut-chasing mayhem around his stand. Such is hunting during the Georgia rut.

This year the chasing activity may have been more sporadic than usual because of unseasonably warm temperatures. For whatever reason, many hunters reported seeing less daylight chasing activity than normal during what should have been peak rutting times this season.

A Booner for a young lady? Ragan Souter, of Poulan, with the giant 10-pointer she killed in Worth County on Nov. 21. For Ragan’s story and more pictures, go to

But as a retired biologist likes to say—guarantee you they rutted, you just didn’t see them. Bucks are going to breed does, every year, no matter what.

There’s still plenty of deer hunting to go this season, and no doubt some December and end-of-the-season trophy bucks will be taken, not to mention plenty of freezer meat.

Here are reports from across the state by GON’s Hunt Advisor team.


Cherokee County & Mountain WMAs: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “As I am writing this report, things are heating up here in Cherokee County from a rut perspective. Thanksgiving week is still looking good for peak rut activity. It is time to be where you have seen the most does this season. Pay close attention to her actions, and watch the woods around her. It is not uncommon during this time to have the quiet woods erupt with a doe blasting through, and what’s behind her should be the focus of attention.

“As for natural food in the woods, white oak acorns are about gone, while red oaks are still plentiful. As December rolls in, green will be the color to look for when it comes to food source. Recent killing frost has eliminated much of the natural browse. This will make green fields and food plots come to life.


Jerry McGhee, of Ball Ground, killed this nice 8-point buck on Halloween morning in Cherokee County.

Mike Buck celebrated his 68th birthday killing this 9-pointer in Elbert County.

“A recent hunt on Swallow Creek WMA revealed food plots already getting hammered. The mountains should have enough red oak acorns to carry the winter. However, hogs and bear are plentiful as well, which put up strong competition for the whitetail food source. Don’t forget the late rut that occurs in the northeast Georgia mountains. Mid December through Christmas can prove to be great fun.

“I have to say, overall considering the weather, number of deer and food sources, it’s been an enjoyable season thus far. As always, stay calm and hunt on. Have a blessed Christmas!”

Success! Jordan Patton (above), of Clayton, got his first deer while hunting with his Pawpaw, Randall Patton (below), of Tallulah Falls, and Randall also downed a great buck. They were hunting in Warren County. Two happy guys!

Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “Hard to believe this deer season is headed into the home stretch. It has been one of the best seasons I have seen, with incredible numbers of deer seen and big bucks taken even on public land, and processors having to close to get caught up. It started the second week of bow season and has not let up.

“The rut map was pretty much dead on for my area of the county. The morning of Nov. 14,  I saw 28 deer and witnessed the first chasing I had seen all season. I was off work for the next week and Thanksgiving week. The rut was amazing through the 18th, as I saw bucks chasing for those five days straight. Then just as fast as it started, it came to a halt. Still seeing plenty of deer, but the does started bunching back up with their fawns, and the bucks went back to cruising. I still feel very confident that a chance at a second shooter will present itself, with all the does in the woods. No way they all got bred the first go around.”

Hayden Hester, 15, of Jefferson, took his first buck on Nov. 22, a very nice 8-pointer, while hunting with his dad in Jackson County.

“The only problem with this season is the tropical system that put all the acorns on the ground at once. They are disappearing quickly now. The deer are healthy and should get through the winter okay, with a little supplemental help. I will continue to stay in the areas between the bedding and food. I expect the secondary rut to be very good, as there are so many does in the woods. There have been seasons in the past that I have complained about and not enjoyed very much, but not this one. It may possibly be the best I’ve seen in over 50 years of hunting.

“Hope everyone has a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.”

Here’s a great public-land bow-buck. Cody Pruitt, of LaGrange, stuck this Troup County 11-pointer 5 yards from his stand on Nov. 7 while hunting West Point Lake Corps of Engineers land.


Hancock County: Greg Grimes, of Ball Ground, reports, “It appears we have missed some of the better rut action. Based on the cameras it was late October and early November, and then it got slow mid November. We saw some 3-year -olds cruising, but not a lot of chasing and seeking action. We’re seeing a decent number of does during daylight hours, but for sure the cameras are showing they are more active at night. Overall it’s been a little slower than anticipated. Most of the photos we’re getting now in late November are over feeders and not over scrapes. The scrapes went inactive.

“The food plots are looking better than ever after recent rain. Anticipate good evening hunting over food plots in December. We have too many does, so there should be some does coming back in heat with some early December rut action.”

Lexi Jordan, 17, of Comer, was hunting with her dad Nov. 2 in Madison County. After passing up an 8-pointer, this big 9 came into the field checking does.

Putnam County: Dwayne Britt, of Bishop, reports, “It’s dead out here—or I saw several bucks chasing does… I’m sure both of these are what others have heard from hunters coming out of the woods this November. A hot doe can quickly change your hunt if you’re in the right spot, or it can kill your hunt if she is no where nearby.

“So far it’s been great at our place with several mature bucks on the ground already. I was hunting a really nice 8-point and went for broke as I knew the rut seemed to be fading away.  I hunted the edge of a bedding area and went against normal judgement and actually had my wind partially blowing into the area. I took a tarsal from my daughter’s 10-point and poured doe pee up in the trees to help get it into thee wind. Ten minutes later I had a different mature, crazy, heavy-horned buck on the ground.

“Food plots are great, and deer are back feeding in the evenings. A few white oaks are still dropping and are a great place to be if you have them. If the pressure has caused the deer sighting to drop, start hunting the middle of the day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“December is the time to hunt cut timber if you have it. Find thickets with briars and transition areas from thick pines to somewhat thick hardwoods. Look for ditches that flatten out with deer crossings in the thick areas. This is the time to use some corn if needed and put it out by hand and give it a couple days and work the wind to get into the area. Over the next few weeks there will be does that were not bred coming back into estrus. Don’t be afraid to hunt where you can’t see much. Good luck everyone.”


Eric Litschauer, a GON member from Social Circle, with his Walton County 13-pointer killed the afternoon of Nov. 7. “He was the only deer I saw all afternoon—cruising through with his nose on the ground looking for does… he never found one,” Eric said.

Andrew Turner, of Gibson, has one of the best bow-bucks ever from Glascock County. Andrew watched the buck hit a scrape Sept. 22 before getting a shot on the 10-pointer.


Colquitt County: Adam Childers, of Norman Park, reports, “Well, November has come and gone in no time! For most of the state, the rut is winding down. However, there are areas across southwest Georgia where the rut is just getting going good. It seems to me like it’s been a pretty good year all over the state as more and more people are working hard to improve the deer herd as a whole. I really think that some parts of our state are comparable to some Midwestern states when proper nutrition and genetics all line up. Hopefully this trend will continue and things only get better.”

Jim Turner, of Moultrie, with a super Colquitt County buck taken Nov. 21.

“As we move into December, I’ll start keeping a close eye on food sources again, particularly greens fields and corn. Most of the time when the bucks slow down after rut, I find them in the exact same spots they were using during the summer and early bow season. It seems like during the first few days they are back in this old routine they are very visible in daylight hours. As time goes by, they do what they do and become more nocturnal again. That’s not to say you can’t catch one slipping in January, but it seems that right after rut when they are trying to recover is a great time to seal the deal. We’ve still got plenty of time and hopefully some more favorable weather coming our way. I plan to get out and enjoy it as much as I can because we’ll soon be waiting on September!”

Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “Wow, it’s hard to believe that November hunting has come to an end. We have had an interesting season this year for sure. The deer movement has been different to say the least. We have had good deer movement for the most part, but not so much for mature deer, bucks or does. The rut activity as far as chasing has been almost non-existent while we were in the stands. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, we just didn’t witness it. We didn’t see mature deer chasing and only a few were seen trailing a doe. We have seen a good bit of young deer, which is good for the future, but not for the present. I’ve seen a good number of 2- and 3-year-old bucks and some with a lot of potential, if they make it through the rest of the season. There have been a few sightings of  mature bucks, but only a couple have presented a shot for a couple of club members. I’ve seen lots of mature bucks taken on social media from this area.”

Father and son had successful hunts just two days apart. David Manders and his son Dusty Manders (below), 13, with their Crisp County bucks. David got his 10-pointer on Oct. 31, and Dusty’s 8-pointer went down on Nov. 2. 

“If you still have not bagged that buck this year, don’t give up, there’s plenty of time left to hunt. I’ve seen some great bucks taken in December, and there are still going to be plenty of deer around to help fill the freezer. I would concentrate on the natural browse food sources that are on those travel routes that the deer will be browsing on in December. We expect the deer movement will slow down during the post rut, but don’t give up. Hope you all have a good December. Hunt safe, God Bless!”

Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “Late October through Thanksgiving week this year saw the Good Lord blessing those of us in Harris County with day after day of beautiful weather—unseasonably warm temperatures, very little rain and exactly one frost—and a mild one at that. Unfortunately, while that resulted in very pleasant hunting conditions, including many days of clear skies with little wind, it didn’t equate to anything approaching strong daytime deer movement, even during the peak of the rut. On all of the Harris County properties we hunt, typical rutting behavior like chasing, buck fights, actual breeding, etc. was very rarely observed from a deer stand. Rather, these activities obviously occurred primarily during the cooler, nighttime hours.”

“Since this warm-weather pattern is not really unusual for our area, we adjusted our hunting tactics and areas based on years of past experience to focus on those spots which we knew were relatively the coolest and which also held water. On our properties, that basically equated to creek bottoms, creek bottoms and more creek bottoms. By focusing on these areas, we were still able to kill several mature bucks that were slowly cruising through those terrain types either early in the morning or late in the day. My youngest son, Jake, killed a tall 3 1/2 year-old 8-pointer right at dusk on Oct. 28, then he tagged out from a buck perspective with a beautiful 5 1/2 year-old 14-pointer (a basic 9-pointer with five additional kickers) on the afternoon of Nov. 6. I finally got on the board myself by shooting a solid 3 1/2 year-old 10-pointer the morning of Friday the 13th of November. Still, overall, daytime deer sightings in general, and buck appearances specifically, have been down somewhat this year, at least on the Harris County properties we hunt. I attribute that almost entirely to the warmer-than-normal gun-season weather thus far and not to any significant decrease in the Harris County deer population.

Hopefully, deer sightings will increase as the weather gets colder —and we all know it will get frosty eventually, right? Our cool-season food plots are looking great at this point, and they should really pull in the deer once the temperatures drop. That’s especially true of our brassica plots, primarily turnips and radishes, which will become like deer candy after a few frosts hit them and raise their sugar content. Once the temperature drops and stays there for an extended period of time, I’ll revert back to my early season pattern of hunting almost exclusively in the afternoons, with a focus on stands on or very near to these types of destination food plots.

“Merry Christmas!”

Shelby Clark, of Statesboro, with her Bulloch County 12-point buck that will likely rank as one of the county’s best-ever when it is officially measured. See Shelby’s full story at

Macon County: David Keene, of Oglethorpe, reports, “I have not seen any bucks chasing on our lease or my farm. I have seen a few trailing does, but no actual running. This past week I have seen 10 bucks, and only two were Macon County legal. I did see a good one when I was coming down our driveway the other night. There have been some very good ones taken by my nephews family near Marshallville on the river and several reported to Kountry Sporting Goods in Montezuma. We did find a 3-year-old 17-inch 7-point that had a split skull from fighting and died from his injuries. We have also taken a few feral hogs.

“We still have acorns dropping fairly good, and I watched a young 8-point eating honeysuckle Thursday morning and several young bucks eating acorns. I even had a 6-point bed down in front of my blind and stay for over 30 minutes. Have been getting some good deer on camera and hoping to have one come out in front of me. Also taking grandkids hunting a good bit trying for their first deer. Take a kid hunting and good luck, stay safe and stay well.”

Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Hot! That’s all I can say about the weather and the deer hunting. Twiggs County has stepped up in the big-deer category. Seemed like every other day I was hearing of a giant being killed around the county. My cousin Keith Smith started things off with a great 10-point on our club on Oct. 26, and then Jody Chance killed an 8-point on the 31st that green scored 158. Now that’s a big 8. Frank Carden killed a beast of a 9-point with stickers, and David Nobles killed a big 10-point on Nov. 11, and that’s just the ones I heard about. So the rut was right on schedule around here.”

Keith Smith with his 189-lb. 10-pointer killed on Oct. 26 while bowhunting in Twiggs County.

“The weather can’t make its mind up, but the deer don’t care, we just have to suffer. With the acorns on the way out except for pin and water oaks, which seem to last forever, the plots should be looking good with all the rain from the hurricane, so the second rut will be exciting around those plots if you have them. If not, just find a food source close to a bedding area and stick with it.

“I think the deer are looking good in our area with all the clubs feeding protein and letting the good little bucks have another year to grow. But please don’t push that ‘he’s too little to shoot’ on the kids. Let them make their on mind up, and remember how your first buck felt.

“If you need meat and haven’t killed anything, I still say this every year, the fawn distress call with a white napkin tied to your pull up rope will call in a doe. It might take trying it 50 times, but it does work just like a grunt tube works on a buck. Just shake the rope so the deer thinks something is hurting a fawn. If they don’t see anything, I think they won’t come in. The three times it’s worked for me, I always had the napkin. The best time is after the rut when the does are letting the fawns back in the pack.”

Comment below to let us know how your hunting is going, and what you’re expecting for December.


Sixteen-year-old Allie Rucker with the 214-lb. Pulaski County 7-point buck she killed on Nov. 7.

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