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The Georgia Rut Map

GON Staff | September 30, 2022

Georgia’s deer rutting activity varies widely across the state, a fact more unique to Georgia than probably any other state with a large population of white-tailed deer. 

This range in timing provides both great opportunity and sometimes great confusion to Georgia hunters. We know WMA hunters who follow the rut peak on public lands across the state—like the late GON writer and public-land hunting expert Glen Soloman. 

The bucks may be chasing like crazy in early October on the coast, while they aren’t even laying down pre-rut sign yet in southwest Georgia. 

When the rut peaks in your hunting area depends on a number of factors, but one of the keys is the genetic background of the deer you are hunting. In many areas, Georgia has an ‘out-of-state’ rut determined by the genetics of deer that were imported and stocked from other states to re-establish our herd.

GON’s Rut Map began almost three decades ago. We started with a fairly general map first created by Game & Fish Commission biologists. They had compiled historical data on conception dates of does. Using a fetal back-dating technique, biologists could pinpoint the dates that does were bred. That biological data was an excellent start to the rut map. In the meantime, GON compiled anecdotal accounts of hunters witnessing first-hand mature bucks chasing does. Most, but not all, of these accounts came from Truck-Buck entries. The contest receives an average of 750 buck entries each season—there have been more than 25,000 bucks entered since the start of Truck-Buck. These entries include rut data and hunt story accounts that are logged by county with the dates mature bucks are seen chasing does. Young bucks, like a 1 1/2-year-old 6-point, don’t count in these compilations. 

For the hunter, the peak of the rut is the period when mature bucks are chasing does. It is the time when mature bucks are most vulnerable. Often, the peak of mature buck movement occurs 10 days to two weeks before the peak of actual breeding. GON’s Rut Map is a blend of conception dates and when mature bucks are chasing.

A hunter can take the historical peak rutting times from GON’s Rut Map, combine it with observations during their hunting experiences, and be better able to peg the peak of the rut in their area. 

The goal is to be in the woods when the most bucks will be rutting. 

Then, hope for that special deer hunting day, that window of perfection—two days after a sharp cold front… when the wind had laid, the frost covers the ground… when mature, rutting bucks are crashing through the Georgia woods chasing does. 

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