Hunt Advisor Reports From The Deer Woods For December 2022
GON’s team of Hunt Advisors is spread out across the state. That’s pretty important when you consider Georgia’s widely varying rut. Depending on what part of the state you’re hunting, you could be experiencing anything from the post-rut doldrums to pre-rut cruising.
Not to mention the secondary rut… Fingers are always crossed for that bonus action!
Here are the Hunt Advisor reports as we shift from November to December in the Georgia deer woods.
Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “The rut is on in Cherokee County. You can throw out all normal deer movement and hunt the area where you have seen high number of does. Thanksgiving week will see peak action, and it can be any time of day. Just this morning (Nov. 20) a nice mature buck was in the middle of a field mid-morning, which only means one thing, the chase is on! The big boys are letting all their smartness go for a taste of love.
“Grandkids are out of school this week, and we hope to capitalize on what always proves to be a fun week here in Cherokee. It’s also exciting to think about out-of-zone bucks that have not been on camera being brought in by a hot doe. Our plan is to concentrate on areas where you can cover a lot of territory and green fields where does are known to come in to feed. The bucks will come and check them out to see if any are ready to breed. Another place that has proved good in the past is where multiple ridges come together. For some reason, the deer like to run ridges this time of year.
“Looking forward to good frosty mornings and the smell of gunpowder. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and gets out into the great outdoors. Stay calm and hunt on!”
Jackson County: Michael Williams, of Nicholson, reports, “November has been a rollercoaster of emotions. What started off as an unseasonably warm November that left many Georgia hunters biting their nails in frustration wondering if the ‘Rut Magic’ was going to be less eventful. Luckily, mother nature heard the many prayers and blessed us with an extreme cold front that left many parts of Georgia 20 degrees colder.
“My November rut hunt began on the 11th. Saw many deer that morning and several bucks. Weather was cool with misty rain, but the next morning was going to be dry, bluebird skies and in the upper 30s. On Nov. 12, I climbed up onto my tree saddle platform about 45 minutes before sunup overlooking an oak ridge and a very large scrape. I knew with the previous rain that bucks would be coming through to scent check and freshen up these scrapes. At exactly 7:30, a very nice 3.5-year-old 8-point comes walking up the ridge nose up and lip curling heading directly to the scrape, which is exactly 25 yards from my setup.
“He noses up to the licking branch and paws the dirt a bit, then I let my Black Eagle Zombie Slayer arrow fly making a perfect double-lung shot. He ran about 45 yards.
“My main target buck, which is a main-frame 10, showed himself the next morning around 10 a.m. 80 yards from my stand. It was a bitterly cold morning with a steady wind. I grunted and snort-wheezed at him, but due to the wind, I wasn’t sure he could hear. I had to watch in disappointment as he hopped the fence and trotted off.”
“As of Nov. 20, the rut is slowing down in my area. Activity is still pretty good in the morning, but not near as good as five days ago. It’s remarkable how bucks can turn on and off as they do.
“As far as patterning going into late November and the remainder of the season, I’m going to be completely honest and from my own experience. There really isn’t one, at least not where I am. If you know the local late-season food sources and bedding cover, set up between them and be there. We should have a second rut roughly around Dec. 10, but depending on the weather, it can come and go unnoticed.
“I strictly stick to travel corridors, funnels and sunny benches along ridge lines in hopes to catch an early morning cruising buck. Food sources for me are red oak acorns, green briar and thick privet bottoms. If you have a food plot for late season, I’d set up along the edge and hunt.
“Nighttime pictures of bucks, specifically mature bucks, are starting to pop up. This is the time of year I don’t focus on chasing ‘Ghosts.’ I just hunt smart and become more tactical to the area. Going into December can weigh heavy on a lot of hunters. Some have reaped the success of November and some are starting to feel their chances slipping away. December for me is staying positive, hunting smart and just having fun. Always know that the next hunt can be your hunt.
“As my wife likes to say, ‘It will happen when you least expect it.’ Here’s to the late season and December.”
Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “It’s been a very strange season, as of the weekend before Thanksgiving. The rut has been nonexistent up to that point, with the does and fawns still bunched together, and the bucks just not showing much interest in them at all. I don’t know if I somehow missed it, or it’s going to be a little later than normal.
“I did manage to take a nice 8-pointer on the evening of Nov. 13. He was trailing a doe and her fawn, but she wanted nothing to do with him. For the most part, I’m still getting most of my mature buck pics at night, and their weights are down dramatically, like they have been chasing. I’m off the week of Thanksgiving, and I’m hoping to catch another mature buck making a mistake in the daytime. My plan will be to stay close to the best food sources, and hope a hot doe will drag a lovesick buck in with her. Whether the primary rut is over with or not, they still have to eat.
“I hope everyone had a good and safe Thanksgiving.”
Fayette & Meriwether Counties: Jeff Scurry, of Peachtree City, reports, “Lots of rut activity was seen the second week of November, mainly with smaller bucks pushing does around. I did witness a 3.5-year-old 8-point tend a doe in Fayette County as she was eating pin oaks on the edge of a field. The third week of November, the older bucks seemed to be moving more and new bucks have been seen on trail cameras as they are starting to move out of their home range looking for does.
“As far as food sources, food plots are being hit hard, as are the lots of pin oaks still dropping acorns. With the number of does I have seen, it looks like the second rut should be strong in December because of the number of does not being bred the first go-round.
“As far as late-season tactics, hunt the food sources—that’s where the does will be, therefore bringing in the bucks. With the drop in temperature and shortness of daylight hours, more bucks have been seen this past week. On Nov. 17, I decided to coyote hunt based on the number of coyotes I have seen on trail cameras. I called in and took a black male coyote at daybreak. After retrieving him, I decided to rattle a bit and turn my focus on bringing in a big buck. Five minutes later after a rattling sequence, three does came running out into the field where I had just shot the coyote. Behind them was a 4.5-year-old 8-point, which I took at 150 yards.”
Jasper County: Tim Zech, of Monticello, reports, “The peak of the rut is over in Jasper County. Cameras showed most chasing on Nov. 8-9. I was in the woods a lot that week but didn’t see any shooters. When you have lots of stand choices, it’s easy to be at the wrong stand at the right time. Several of my family members have connected with their target bucks in various counties.
“I like hunting mid-December, and on a couple of properties it usually produces. Acorns are drying up, and the does will stack up on the plots now that we have rain.
“Have fun and be safe out there.”
Putnam County: Dwayne Britt, of Bishop, reports, “This year has been one of my best years hunting. I’ve seen multiple deer in every hunt including several quality bucks. I’ve seen mature bucks chasing or following does since late October and recently had a mature 8-point following a doe on Nov. 18. My daughter Grace Britt took a nice 207-lb. 8-point on Nov. 3.”
“It appears the rut is winding down and deer activity is beginning to slow down. Evenings have been great on our food plots that came in after we finally got some much-needed rain.
“As we move into December, my strategy will change as acorns are gone except the occasional water oak that may drop late, offering a good opportunity for a late-season buck. I will spend the majority of my evenings hunting either food plots or edges of bedding areas leading to a food source. Thick-cut timber is one of my favorite places to hunt late season as deer seem more comfortable during daylight hours browsing on briars and any remaining food sources. Another option is getting into thick pines right on top of the bedding areas. Look for thick briars with multiple trails leading into crossroads or ditches that have a pinch point where deer cross. Try to set up a ladder stand, ground blind, or any good cover from a reasonable distance away trying not to cross the hunting area and with optimal wind. If you can go in and corn the area up a few days early throwing the corn into tree stumps, old pine holes or into the briars, you just might catch a good buck in his comfort zone.
Walton County: Xane Bennett, of Monroe, reports, “It’s been tough hunting in the morning and daytime for the last few weeks here. The majority of the movement I’ve seen is strictly in the evening and at night. I have primarily focused any morning hunts on the thickest cover I can find on a given property, which goes hand in hand with the majority of all the mature bucks I’ve seen this season. Consistently they have been near bedding areas surrounded by high stem count cover. The younger bucks, on the other hand, are still running does mostly through food sources and thin cover.
“The second rut is always a fun time of year due to the mile movement of bucks seeking out that one unbred doe. You will continue to see bucks you never have seen show up out of the blue. Does are pretty skittish as the month progresses, whether it be from hunting pressure or breeding pressure, but they are also hungry! Unpressured food sources are always a simple, reliable way of hunting the second rut. Prioritizing your late season stand locations with the time of day is going to be the major key in your hunting success late in the season.
“Don’t let the lack of day movement discourage your motivation during those late-season hunts. There is still plenty of time ahead for some amazing memories. Enjoy the rest of the season, stay safe and good luck!”
Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “This deer season has been more on the normal side than the last couple of years. It seems that the deer population and movement has picked up some. We were not seeing a lot in late October and the first week of November, but things picked up around the 11th, and the deer started moving around. A lot of the deer seen were not until 8-9 a.m. and sometimes even later. We’ve seen a good bit of 1- to 2.5-year-olds. I would say the highlight of our rut action was the week of the 15th with the deer movement steady with fairly normal rut action—bucks trailing and chasing. It was great being out in the woods and enjoying this thing called hunting. Things picked up a bit that weekend.
“The deer are mostly feeding on natural vegetation. We have some decent food plots with rye, winter peas and clover that they have been feeding on some, but the deer are not mowing the plots down.
“As we head into December, I expect their movement to slow down and return to the natural travel routes instead of just popping out in random places. There’s still plenty of time to fill the freezer or tag that trophy. Hunt safe and God Bless!”
Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “With a buck-to-doe ratio of approximately 1:2 on our Harris County hunting properties, the rut this November was definitely intense regardless of the day, weather or moon phase. As is typically the case, a couple of our target bucks dispersed following velvet shedding, but most of our Hit List bucks remained on our properties to be hunted. As of the week of Thanksgiving, the majority of our targeted bucks, plus some newcomers, had already been harvested, either by club members or neighbors on surrounding cooperative properties. As an example of the fact that weather doesn’t always hinder deer movement, especially during the pre-rut and rut, I was lucky enough to harvest a very nice 8-pointer that came in grunting, rubbing trees and making scrapes at 4:30 in the afternoon on Nov. 7—when it was sunny and 82 degrees. I was sitting in my treestand wearing a camo t-shirt!”
“I also greatly enjoyed sharing in the experiences of two of my family members killing milestone deer this season. First, one of my grandsons, Bentley Harper, killed his first deer on the afternoon of Nov. 12 while hunting with his dad, Jake, on our Harris County lease. Then, on the afternoon of Nov. 20, I had the joy of sitting with my wife, Christina, when she killed her first buck, a big-bodied Harris County 9-pointer. No matter how long you’ve been hunting, or how many critters you’ve killed yourself, there’s nothing more enjoyable—at least to me—than seeing the joy on someone’s face when they harvest a big game animal that they’ll remember for the rest of their life!
“As your read this in early December, the primary rut in Harris County will be over for another year, and with it ends the excitement of seeing bucks chasing does, hearing bucks grunting as they follow the trail of a hot doe, and seeing and hearing bucks engaged in combat. But that doesn’t mean deer season is over, or that a good, mature buck can’t still be killed. It simply means that our tactics will need to change, and we’ll likely have to work a little harder to be successful. With colder days and more open woods, I’ll be shifting my focus to hunting any remaining primary food sources as the deer, and particularly bucks, attempt to recover from the rigors of the rut and prepare for the harshness of winter by hitting the groceries hard. On the properties I hunt, late-season food sources that will draw deer in include red oak acorns, cool-season food plots and supplemental feed. Deer do most of their daylight feeding during the late season in the afternoons, so that’s when I’ll be doing the vast majority of my hunting for the remainder of the season. And the closer any of these primary food sources are to deer bedding areas, the more likely you’ll be to see deer movement during daylight hours.”
Macon County: David Keene, of Oglethorpe, reports, “We have seen several nice bucks, but not much chasing. The ground is covered in water oak and live oak acorns.
“I took a nice 10-point the afternoon of Nov. 14 as he was walking a trail eating blackberry leaves. Still waiting on the big one to walk by.”
Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Well, this deer season has been one for the books—my book anyway. I went to Ohio for the first week of November and killed a great 6×4, and then I came home to people talking of bucks chasing does in Jones County like they haven’t seen in 10 years, so I called a few buddies of mine around here in Twiggs County, and they said no sign of a rut yet.”
“OK, I thought I’d just see for myself and hunt every day like I always do being retired and all. I saw no sign of the rut other than a few paw marks that were fresh and hit hard, but no grunting or chasing or any of the good stuff. Then I was sitting in my stand on Friday the 12th of November at 10 a.m.—without hearing anything that sounded like a deer and thinking about where to hunt the evening because ain’t nothing happening here for sure. Then I heard something running toward me from behind, and a doe stopped at 8 yards under my tree looking back. I heard crunching leaves and got ready only to see another doe, but she also looked back. Then I heard the sweet music a grunt makes and I saw the big 9-point I had on film—at least I thought it was him—so I shot him at 8 yards and he ran maybe 30 and died. Turns out it wasn’t the one I had on film but his almost twin brother.
“Then I went hunting another tract I lease, thinking I’ve never arrowed three good bucks with my Mathews V3 in the same year and thinking how awesome that would be, and I heard a twig snap. Another great 8-point stopped at 22 yards and I shot over him, but he ran to 32 yards and stopped, and I put it through both lungs to tag out in Georgia and Ohio. I haven’t done that in 20 years, and it’s bittersweet because I’m done till next year. Unless I shoot my fourth on the Oaky Woods bonus hunt. Now that would be crazy.
“I can’t say the rut has happened yet here, but it doesn’t matter as long as you’re in a tree because that’s how you kill them. The plots are going to be getting hit hard now because the acorns are gone, if you got any food plots to grow this year. Stay where the does are—that is the key to killing them, we all know that.
“Good luck in the final weeks. I might not be in the Shoot-Out with my bucks, but I’ll sure be there watching.”
Other Articles You Might Enjoy